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Original Research

Exposure and Response Prevention Helps Adults With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Who Do Not Respond to Pharmacological Augmentation Strategies

Carmen P. McLean, PhDa,*; Laurie J. Zandberg, PsyDa; Page E. Van Meter, PhDb; Joseph K. Carpenter, BAa,c; Helen Blair Simpson, MD, PhDb,d; and Edna B. Foa, PhDa

Published: December 23, 2015

Article Abstract

Objective: Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) are a first-line treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Yet, most patients with OCD who are taking SRIs do not show excellent response. Recent studies show that augmenting SRIs with risperidone benefits a minority of patients. We evaluated the effectiveness of exposure and response prevention (EX/RP) among nonresponders to SRI augmentation with 8 weeks of risperidone or placebo.

Method: The study was conducted from January 2007 to August 2012. Nonresponders to SRI augmentation with risperidone or pill placebo (N = 32) in a randomized controlled trial for adults meeting DSM-IV-TR criteria for OCD were offered up to 17 twice-weekly EX/RP sessions. Independent evaluators, blind to treatment, evaluated patients at crossover baseline (week 8), midway through crossover treatment (week 12), post-EX/RP treatment (week 16), and follow-up (weeks 20, 24, 28, and 32). The primary outcome was OCD severity, measured with the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS). Secondary outcomes were depression, quality of life, insight, and social functioning.

Results: Between crossover baseline and follow-up, nonresponders to SRI augmentation with risperidone or placebo who received EX/RP showed significant reductions in OCD symptoms and depression, as well as significant increases in insight, quality of life, and social functioning (all P < .001).

Conclusions: Exposure and response prevention is an effective treatment for patients who have failed to respond to SRI augmentation with risperidone or placebo. This study adds to the body of evidence supporting the use of EX/RP with patients who continue to report clinically significant OCD symptoms after multiple pharmacologic trials.

Trial Registration: Identifier: NCT00389493

Volume: 76

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