First, there is the possibility of confounding the results through people having fewer attacks for a reason which is not the panic attack intervention. Selection bias could occur as a result of the criteria by which we are selecting subjects (those with panic disorders who both have and have not been treated) (Buckner et al., 2009). The history of the subjects may vary, leading to unexpected results that cannot weigh accurately on the conclusion of the study. Maturation of the subject with regards to anxiety disorders could also occur, lessening the frequency of attacks for a reason other than intervention. Threats to external validity include situations (conditions being not favorable for a panic attack intervention) or aptitude-treatment-interaction threats (generalisability is affected by the specific criteria of the sample) (Claesson, 2010)
These threats could be mildly addressed by modifying the research design, namely by ensuring that the groups who have never undergone treatment are receiving no other type of intervention or relief for their symptoms. However, with things like maturation and history, they cannot be reasonably tackled, as much of it depends on what occurs in the natural course of their lives during the study.
In terms of my hypothesis (that panic attack and anxiety disorder intervention can help reduce the frequency and intensity of panic attacks), I expect that it will remain valid, in line with the pervading wisdom that these types of interventions work as advertised – the hypothesis will be supported by the outcome of this study. It is the hope of this study that the examination of panic attacks could move further away from a ‘transdiagnostic’ approach, and specify it in the realm of anxiety disorders, thus securing a means of study and potential treatment (McManus et al., 2010).
My results could be affected by the aforementioned threats to internal and external validity, as well as flaws in the design. There is, at present, no way to directly correlate the frequency of panic attacks with the presence of intervention in this study; furthermore, there is no guarantee that panic attacks will even occur, as the study does not directly trigger any panic responses. The study is merely observational, and so it is likely that some people in the control group may still never undergo a panic attack for whatever reason (Nebbitt and Lambert, 2009).
Given the findings I expect to receive, it can help to further the assertion that, through the application of anxiety disorder intervention, it is possible to significantly reduce the frequency and intensity of panic attacks experienced by someone with the disorder, and thus improve their quality of life. It provides more evidence toward that notion, increasing the validity of intervention as a practice for those undergoing treatment for panic attacks.
Buckner, J., Cromer, K., Merrill, K., Mallott, M., Lopez, C., Holm-Denoma, J., et al. (2009). Pretreatment Intervention Increases Treatment Outcomes for Patients with Anxiety Disorders. Cognitive Therapy & Research , 33(1), 126-137.
Claesson, I., Josefson, A., & Sydsjo, G. (2010). Prevalence of anxiety and depressive symptoms among obese pregnant and postpartum women: an intervention study. BMC Public Health, 10, 766-775.
McManus, F., Shafran, R., & Cooper, Z. (2010). What does a ‘transdiagnostic’ approach have to offer the treatment of anxie-ty disorders?. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 49(4), 491-505.
Nebbitt, V., & Lambert, S. (2009). Correlates of anxiety sensitivity among African American adolescents living in urban public housing. Journal of Community Psychology, 37(2), 268-280.