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Use of Cognitive Bias Modification (CBM) as Part of Treatment for
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) within a Residential Treatment Setting

Starting Date: 

Research Objective

The first study of its kind, researchers will investigate the effectiveness of cognitive bias modification training (CBM-I) using a hand-held device for patients with depression who are in a residential treatment setting.


  • This is a double-blind study in which neither the participants nor the researchers know who is receiving treatment and who is part of the placebo group. This procedure prevents bias in research results.
  • With this application, ambiguous situations are displayed on an iPhone screen in which a key word or phrase can be altered to show a positive, negative or neutral interpretation.
  • Participants in the active condition are trained to arrive at healthier interpretations of the ambiguous sentences, while the control group is trained to arrive at either a negative or neutral interpretations.

Participants/Pre-Screening Criteria

  • Rogers will recruit approximately 60 adults who are in treatment at Rogers Behavioral Health’s FOCUS program in Oconomowoc to volunteer for this study.

Inclusion Criteria

This study will include adults with a primary diagnosis of MDD who are fluent in English. Participants may be taking psychotropic medications, but dosages must be stable for at least the last 90 days prior to beginning the study.

Exclusion Criteria

Participants cannot be actively suicidal, diagnosed as having a psychotic or delusional disorder, or be actively dependent on substances.

  • Half of the participants will be assigned to an active group for the enhanced treatment, the other half will be placed in a placebo group. 


  • Within 48 hours following admission to FOCUS, each participant who has volunteered for the study meets with a member of the research team for training and to begin using the iPhone application.
  • Participants meet individually with a member of the research team each weekday during their residential stay to use the CBM iPhone application. Bi-weekly and final assessments regarding a variety of mental health symptoms, including those for anxiety and depression will also take place.


  • Only key research personnel will have access to the encrypted data files and will conduct the analysis using this information.
  • Researchers will compare the active and placebo groups to assess if the iPhone application was successful in producing a greater reduction in symptoms for people who are also currently receiving treatment for MDD.
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