Saturday, January 31, 2009

Phobic drivers go to class to learn mastery of fear


AUTHOR: Glenn Ruffenach
PUBLICATION: The Wall Street Journal, 1990


SUMMARY: A journalist account of Charles Melville's group treatment course for driving anxiety. Interesting quotes:

"Fears links to driving may be the most common."

"Heredity seems to be part of the problem, but no one is immune...."

"Most of the nine seated around Mr. Melville had their first attach while driving. It occurred for no apparent reason."

"Mr. Melville ... says such attacks are often an "accumulation of life stresses"."

The treatment seems to be primarily systematic desensitization.

MY THOUGHTS: If driving anxiety has genetic (biological) input, occurred spontaneously (no initiating assocation with an unconditioned stressor), and in response to generalised stress (operant conditioning?)--why is the treatment based on the idea of Pavlovian conditioning?

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: The article concentrates on one participant who recovered fully... but what happened to the other nine? This is why I generally focus on peer-reviewed scientific reports.

Friday, January 30, 2009

What does driving and riding avoidance scale (DRAS) measure?
AUTHORS: Taylor JE & Sullman MJM
JOURNAL: Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 2008

ABSTRACT: Driving anxiety can have a significant impact on everyday functioning and usually results in some kind of avoidance behaviour. The Driving and Riding Avoidance Scale (DRAS; Stewart, A. E., & St. Peter, C. C. (2004). Driving and riding avoidance following motor vehicle crashes in a non-clinical sample: psychometric properties of a new measure. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 42, 859–879) shows promise in the self-report assessment of the degree of such avoidance. The present study investigated the psychometric properties of the DRAS in a sample of 301 university students. Internal consistency for the DRAS was 0.89 and temporal stability over two months was 0.71. The factor structure of the DRAS supported the use of the general and traffic avoidance subscales but not the weather and riding avoidance subscales in the present non-clinical sample. However, a significant limitation of the DRAS is that it does not assess the reasons for driving avoidance, and is therefore not a measure of avoidance that is due to driving anxiety. Some items may be rated highly for practical reasons, such as avoidance because of increasing fuel and other costs associated with driving. Modified instructions for the DRAS should ensure that it measures anxiety-related avoidance behaviour. [Abstract here; Keywords: Driving and Riding Avoidance Scale; Avoidance; Measurement; Assessment]

SUMMARY: The DRAS is a twenty question survey taken by people with driving anxiety which is intended to measure how much they avoid driving or riding in cars. However surveys depend on people reporting accurately. This study of undergraduates (mean age 24 years). There was no effect of gender. The test was administered twice, two-months apart, and results changed significantly over this time. The participants showed low level of avoidance.

MY THOUGHTS: Undergraduates may be the most studies subject other than the albino rat, but that has more to do with convenience than validity. DRAS can be used equally with a history of motor vehicle crash experience or not--but may also respond to cause other than driving anxiety. But this is basically yet another study concluding that there is a need for more studies.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: In a practical sense, limited.

J TAYLOR, M SULLMAN (2008). What does the Driving and Riding Avoidance Scale (DRAS) measure? Journal of Anxiety Disorders DOI: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2008.10.006