Home Self-Assessment and Self-Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Using a Manual and a Computer-Conducted Telephone Interview: Replication of a U.K.-U.S. Study

Background: This open study replicates and extends previous pilot work with BT STEPS, a self-therapy system to assess and treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) through exposure and ritual prevention.

Method: 21 OCD patients entered this open trial, using a self-guiding manual and any Touch-Tone telephone to access computer-driven interviews via an Interactive Voice Response system. The patients also used the system to rate progress on rating scales.

Results: The results support those of the previous open study. Of the 21 patients, 16 (76%) completed self-assessment over a mean of 21 days. Of these, 10 patients (48%) went on to do 2 or more exposure and ritual prevention sessions over a mean of 64 days; they improved significantly on OCD symptoms, as much as is usual with serotonin reuptake inhibitor medication, and in mood and work/social adjustment. Improvement was predicted by baseline motivation and by rapid completion of self-assessment with BT STEPS, even though self-assessment alone was not therapeutic.

Conclusion: The significant improvement in the intent-to-treat analysis was due to the subgroup of patients (48% of those who began BT STEPS) who went beyond self-assessment to do exposure and ritual prevention self-therapy at home guided by BT STEPS. A controlled trial is now needed.

J Clin Psychiatry 1999;60(8):545-549