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J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2013;42(1):1-8. doi: 10.1080/15374416.2012.673162. Epub 2012 May 1.

Optimizing treatment for complex cases of childhood obsessive compulsive disorder: a preliminary trial.

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Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Family factors such as conflict, blame, and poor cohesion have been found to attenuate response to cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for pediatric obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). This study examined the feasibility and acceptability of a brief, personalized intervention for cases of pediatric OCD complicated by these family features. Twenty youth with a primary Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.) diagnosis of OCD (M age = 12.50 years; 55% male; 60% Caucasian) and their families participated. To be included in the study, families were required to evidence poor functioning on measures of blame, conflict, and/or cohesion. Eligible families were randomly assigned either to standard treatment (ST) with 12 weeks of individual child CBT that included weekly parent check-ins and psychoeducation or to Positive Family Interaction Therapy (PFIT), which consisted of 12 weeks of individual child CBT plus an additional 6 sessions of family treatment aimed at shifting family dynamics. Clinical outcomes were determined by blind independent evaluators using the Clinician's Global Impressions-Improvement (CGI-I) scale. All families completed the study. High levels of satisfaction were reported among participants in both arms of the study, despite the added burden of attending the PFIT sessions. Both mothers and fathers attended 95% of the PFIT family sessions. Families in the ST condition demonstrated a 40% response rate on the CGI-I; families in the PFIT condition demonstrated a 70% response rate. Treatment gains were maintained in both conditions at 3-month follow-up. Preliminary data suggest that PFIT is acceptable and feasible. Further testing and treatment development are needed to optimize outcomes for complicated cases of pediatric OCD.

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