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BACKGROUND: Previous randomized controlled trials (RCTs) suggest that attention control therapy (ACT), targeting aberrant fluctuations of attention toward and away from threats in patients with PTSD, may be effective in reducing symptoms. The current RCT examined whether the use of personalized-trauma stimuli enhances ACT efficacy in patients with PTSD. Additional moderators of treatment outcome were tested on an exploratory basis. METHODS: Sixty patients with PTSD were randomly assigned to either personalized ACT, non-personalized ACT, or a control condition. Changes in symptoms were examined across pre-treatment, post-treatment, and a 3-month follow-up. Attentional interference was examined pre- and post-treatment. Baseline clinical and cognitive indices as well as the time elapsed since the trauma were tested as potential moderators of treatment outcome. RESULTS: A significant reduction in clinical symptoms was noted for all three conditions with no between-group differences. Attention bias variability decreased following ACT treatment. Personalized ACT was more effective relative to the control condition when less time had elapsed since the trauma. Baseline clinical and cognitive indices did not moderate treatment outcome. CONCLUSIONS: In this RCT of patients with PTSD, ACT was no more effective in reducing PTSD symptoms than a control condition. The data also suggest a potential benefit of personalized ACT for patients who experienced their trauma more recently.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychol Med

Publication Date



1 - 11


Attention control therapy, PTSD, randomized control trial