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Long-Term Follow-Up and Predictors of Clinical Outcome in Obsessive-Compulsive Patients Treated With Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and Behavioral Therapy. [CME]

J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62(7):535-540

Background: The objective of this study was to examine the long-term course of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in patients treated with serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) and behavioral therapy and to identify predictors of clinical outcome.

Method: Sixty outpatients meeting DSM-III-R or DSM-IV criteria for OCD were followed up for 1 to 5 years (mean = 2.5 years). All of them received prolonged pharmacologic therapy with an SRI.

Results: Thirty-seven patients (61.7%) completed an adequate behavioral treatment. At long-term assessment, 22 patients (36.7%) exhibited a global Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) score greater than 16 or a final reduction in Y-BOCS global score of less than 35% and were considered nonresponders. Patients who completed behavioral therapy showed a significant decrease in Y-BOCS compulsions subscale score (p = .01), whereas no significant differences in either Y-BOCS global or obsessions subscale scores between those who did and those who did not undergo behavioral therapy were detected. Obsessions of sexual/religious content were the unique factor related to a poorer long-term outcome.

Conclusion: A substantial number of OCD patients showed persistent disabling symptoms at the long-term follow-up in spite of combined pharmacologic and behavioral treatment. Major benefits from behavioral therapy appeared to be the improvement of ritualistic behaviors. Sexual/religious obsessions predicted poorer long-term outcome, whereas short-term response to SRI treatment failed to achieve predictive value in the long-term course of OCD.