Identifying patterns in complex field data : clustering heart rate responses of agoraphobic patients undertaking situational exposure

White, Andrew J. ; Kleinböhl, Dieter ; Lang, Thomas ; Hamm, Alfons O. ; Gerlach, Alexander L. ; Alpers, Georg W.

Document Type: Article
Year of publication: 2017
The title of a journal, publication series: Zeitschrift für Psychologie = Journal of Psychology
Volume: 225
Issue number: 3
Page range: 268-284
Place of publication: Göttingen
Publishing house: Hogrefe
ISSN: 2190-8370 , 2151-2604
Publication language: English
Institution: School of Social Sciences > Klinische u. Biologische Psychologie u. Psychotherapie (Alpers 2010-)
Subject: 150 Psychology
Abstract: Ambulatory assessment methods are well suited to examine how patients with panic disorder and agoraphobia (PD/A) undertake situational exposure. But under complex field conditions of a complex treatment protocol, the variability of data can be so high that conventional analytic approaches based on group averages inadequately describe individual variability. To understand how fear responses change throughout exposure, we aimed to demonstrate the incremental value of sorting HR responses (an index of fear) prior to applying averaging procedures. As part of their panic treatment, 85 patients with PD/A completed a total of 233 bus exposure exercises. Heart rate (HR), global positioning system (GPS) location, and self-report data were collected. Patients were randomized to one of two active treatment conditions (standard exposure or fear-augmented exposure) and completed multiple exposures in four consecutive exposure sessions. We used latent class cluster analysis (CA) to cluster heart rate (HR) responses collected at the start of bus exposure exercises (5 min long, centered on bus boarding). Intra-individual patterns of assignment across exposure repetitions were examined to explore the relative influence of individual and situational factors on HR responses. The association between response types and panic disorder symptoms was determined by examining how clusters were related to self-reported anxiety, concordance between HR and self-report measures, and bodily symptom tolerance. These analyses were contrasted with a conventional analysis based on averages across experimental conditions. HR responses were sorted according to form and level criteria and yielded nine clusters, seven of which were interpretable. Cluster assignment was not stable across sessions or treatment condition. Clusters characterized by a low absolute HR level that slowly decayed corresponded with low self-reported anxiety and greater self-rated tolerance of bodily symptoms. Inconsistent individual factors influenced HR responses less than situational factors. Applying clustering can help to extend the conventional analysis of highly variable data collected in the field. We discuss the merits of this approach and reasons for the non-stereotypical pattern of cluster assignment across exposures.

Dieser Eintrag ist Teil der Universitätsbibliographie.

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