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Internet-Based CBT Shows Great Promise for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

09 Apr

Researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden  investigated the efficacy of internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (ICBT) with therapist support for obsessive compulsive disorder. CBT is widely regarded as an effective treatment for OCD, but access to CBT therapists is limited – thus the internet-based program as an intermediate solution.
This pilot was an open trial where 23 patients received a 15-week ICBT program with therapist support, consisting of psycho-education, cognitive restructuring and exposure with response prevention.

The primary measure of outcome was the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS), which was assessed by a psychiatrist before and immediately after treatment. Secondary outcomes were self-rated measures of OCD symptoms, depressive symptoms, general functioning, anxiety and quality of life. All assessments were made at baseline and post-treatment.

All participants completed the primary outcome measure at all assessment points. There were reductions in OCD symptoms with a large within-group effect size (Cohen's d = 1.56). At post-treatment, 61% of participants had a clinically significant improvement and 43% no longer fulfilled the diagnostic criteria of OCD. The treatment also resulted in statistically significant improvements in self-rated OCD symptoms, general functioning and depression.

This pilot demonstrated the impressive promise of ICBT, combined with therapist support, for reducing OCD symptoms, depressive symptoms and improving general functioning.  Follow-up with randomized, controlled trials are needed to confirm the effectiveness of this new treatment format.

Citation:  Andersson E, Enander J, Andrén P, Hedman E, Ljótsson B, Hursti T, Bergström J, Kaldo V, Lindefors N, Andersson G, Rück C. Internet-based cognitive behavior therapy for obsessive compulsive disorder: a pilot study. BMC Psychiatry. 2011 Aug 3;11:125. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award