Cognitive Bias Modification (CBM) refers to a family of interventions targeting substance-related cognitive biases, which have been found to play a role in the maintenance of addictive behaviors. In this study, we conducted a Bayesian meta-analysis of individual patient data from studies investigating the effects of CBM as a behavior change intervention for the treatment of alcohol and tobacco use disorders, in individuals aware of the behavior change goal of the studies. Main outcomes included reduction in the targeted cognitive biases after the intervention and in substance use or relapse rate at the short-to-long term follow-up. Additional moderators, both at the study-level (type of addiction and CBM training) and at the participant-level (amount of completed training trials, severity of substance use), were progressively included in a series of hierarchical mixedeffects models. We included 14 studies involving 2435 participants. CBM appeared to have a small effect on cognitive bias (0.23, 95% credible interval = 0.06–0.41) and relapse rate (−0.27, 95% credible interval = −0.68 – 0.22), but not on reduction of substance use. Increased training practice showed a paradoxical moderation effect on relapse, with a relatively lower chance of relapse in the control condition with increased practice, compared to the training condition. All effects were associated with extremely wide 95% credible intervals, which indicate the absence of enough evidence in favor or against a reliable effect of CBM on cognitive bias and relapse rate in alcohol and tobacco use disorders. Besides the need for a larger body of evidence, research on the topic would benefit from a stronger adherence to the current methodological standards in randomized controlled trial design and the systematic investigation of shared protocols of CBM.,
Neuropsychology Review
Department of Psychology

Boffo, M., Zerhouni, O., Gronau, Q.F., van Beek, R.J.J., Nikolaou, K., Marsman, M., & Wiers, R. (2019). Cognitive Bias Modification for behavior change in alcohol and smoking addiction: a Bayesian meta-analysis of individual participant data. Neuropsychology Review, 29(1). doi:10.1007/s11065-018-9386-4