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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Apr 18;(2):CD005333.

Psychological treatments versus treatment as usual for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

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Mandala Clinic, PO Box 361, Gosford, New South Wales, Australia, 2250.



Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic anxiety disorder associated with significant morbidity, social impairment and lower quality of life. Psychological treatments are a frequently used approach for OCD.


To perform a systematic review of randomised trials of psychological treatments for obsessive compulsive disorder in comparison with treatment as usual.


We conducted an electronic search of CCDANCTR-Studies (31/10/2006), and other databases. We searched reference lists, and contacted experts in the field.


Published and unpublished randomised trials of psychological treatments versus treatment as usual for adults with a diagnosis of OCD DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors worked independently throughout the selection of trials and data extraction. Findings were compared and disagreements were discussed with a third review author. Full data extraction, using a standardised data extraction sheet, was performed on all studies included in the review. Results were synthesised using Review Manager software. For dichotomous data, odds ratios were calculated. For continuous data, effect sizes were obtained and the standardised mean difference, with 95% confidence intervals, was calculated. Fixed and random effects models were used to pool the data. Reasons for heterogeneity in studies were explored and sensitivity analyses were performed by excluding trials of lower quality.


Eight studies (11 study comparisons) were identified, all of which compared cognitive and/or behavioural treatments versus treatment as usual control groups. Seven studies (ten comparisons) had usable data for meta-analyses. These studies demonstrated that patients receiving any variant of cognitive behavioural treatment exhibited significantly fewer symptoms post-treatment than those receiving treatment as usual (SMD -1.24, 95% CI -1.61 to -0.87, I(2) test for heterogeneity 33.4%). Different types of cognitive and/or behavioural treatments showed similar differences in effect when compared with treatment as usual. The overall treatment effect appeared to be influenced by differences in baseline severity.


The findings of this review suggest that psychological treatments derived from cognitive behavioural models are an effective treatment for adult patients with obsessive compulsive disorder. Larger high quality randomised controlled trials involving longer follow up periods are needed, to further test cognitive behavioural treatments, and other psychological approaches, in comparison to each other and control conditions. Future trials should examine the predictors of response to each treatment, and also conduct cost-effectiveness evaluations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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