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A randomized controlled trial, or RCT, is a scientific experiment in which participants are randomly allocated to receive one of two or more interventions. RCTs are used in abnormal and clinical psychology research to evaluate the efficacy or effectiveness of interventions by comparing the treatment outcomes of participants receiving one intervention versus another. This entry discusses the rationale behind RCTs, the importance of RCTs in identifying empirically supported treatments, and modifications to RCT designs to make this research method more useful to abnormal and clinical psychology.

Rationale

A key goal of intervention research is detecting dependable causal relations between an intervention and outcomes of interest. A variety of scientific approaches for investigating these causal relations exist, yet RCTs are often promoted as the most reliable method for ...

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