May 13, 2014
1 min read

Family-based cognitive-behavior therapy benefited children with OCD

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In a 14-week, randomized clinical trial, researchers found that family-based cognitive-behavior therapy is more effective than family-based relaxation treatment in children aged 5 to 8 years with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The trial took place at three US universities, and outcomes were measured at baseline, weeks 5, 9 and 14. Participant criteria included clinically relevant OCD symptoms, stable symptoms for 3 months or longer and outpatient status.

The goal of family-based CBT (FB-CBT) focused on understanding, managing and reducing OCD symptoms through psychoeducation, behavior management training for parents, externalizing OCD and exposure plus response prevention for children, as well as components of family process, according to researchers.

To better target the young age group, researchers said they “modified psychoeducation, increased focus on parent-based skills and” simplified CBT skills.

Family-based relaxation therapy (FB-RT) focused on lowering the child’s anxiety through relaxation strategies.

According to the study, 102 participants completed acute treatment; a mean 11.2 out of 12 sessions of FB-CBT and 10.1 out of 12 sessions of FB-RT were completed.

At 14 weeks, more children in the FB-CBT group than in the FB-RT group were rated “very much improved” or “much improved” according to the Clinical Global Impression-Improvement scale (72% vs. 41%).

“Our findings add to the evidence base supporting CBT for pediatric OCD by extending downward the age range that can benefit from CBT protocols emphasizing emphasis on exposure plus response prevention. With appropriate parental support, young children with OCD who undergo FB-CBT can make significant gains beyond what can be expected from having parents attempt to teach relaxation strategies to their children with OCD,” the researchers wrote.


Disclosure: Please see the full study for a list of researchers’ financial disclosures.