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Cognitive Therapy and Exposure in Vivo Alone and in Combination With Fluvoxamine in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A 5-Year Follow-Up

J Clin Psychiatry 2005;66(11):1415-1422

Background: Information regarding the long-term effectiveness of the combination of pharmacotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is limited. Our study is the first to examine the long-term effectiveness of cognitive therapy (CT) and to compare long-term effectiveness of CT alone, exposure in vivo with response prevention (ERP) alone, and CBT (either CT or ERP) in combination with fluvoxamine in the treatment of OCD.

Method: Of 122 outpatients with primary DSM-III-R-defined OCD originally enrolled in 2 randomized controlled trials, 102 patients (45 male/57 female; mean ± SD age = 36.2 ± 10.7 years; range, 19-64 years) were available to be assessed for the presence and severity of OCD and comorbid psychopathology at follow-up. Follow-up data were collected from November 1996 to June 1999.

Results: After 5 years, 54% of the participants no longer met the DSM-III-R criteria for OCD. Long-term outcome did not differ between the 3 treatment groups. At follow-up, treatment dropouts appeared to have more severe OCD complaints compared with treatment completers. Compared with patients receiving CT alone, significantly (p < .005) more patients receiving CBT with fluvoxamine used antidepressants 5 years later.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates that at 5-year follow-up (1) prevalence of OCD had declined in all 3 treatment conditions, (2) the clinical benefits of all 3 treatment conditions were maintained, (3) OCD complaints were more severe for treatment dropouts than for treatment completers, and (4) about half of the patients initially treated with fluvoxamine continued antidepressant use.