2009 IOCDF Grant

African-Americans with OCD: Reducing barriers to diagnosis and treatment

Monnica Williams, PhD

University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)

Award Amount: $37,400

Although African Americans experience OCD at similar rates as the general population, they are less likely to receive treatments such as exposure and response prevention (ERP) and medications. At the time of this study, African Americans were largely absent in OCD specialty clinics and research studies, leaving a large gap in understanding of how OCD impacts this population and how treatments could best serve them.

This study by Dr. Williams and her team assessed the barriers to treatment for African Americans with OCD by analyzing questionnaire responses from 71 African Americans with OCD and 108 European Americans. The study demonstrated six key barriers to receipt of treatment — cost and lack of insurance coverage, stigma and judgment, concerns about the therapist or treatment process, belief that there is no need for treatment, lack of awareness about OCD and treatment, and being too busy for treatment. Compared to the European American sample, African Americans were less likely to know where to seek treatment; almost a quarter were concerned with racial inequality during treatment. Four recommendations to increase treatment participation were suggested by the research team: making treatment more affordable, increasing awareness of OCD and treatments, prioritizing mental health in the family, and reducing fears about therapy and stigma.


Resulting Publication:

*Williams, M.T., Domanico, J., Marques, L., Leblanc, N.J., & Turkheimer, E. (2012). Barriers to treatment among African Americans with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 26(4) 555-563. doi:10.1016/j.janxdis.2012.02.009