Research at the time of this study showed that onset of OCD before the age of nine has been associated with worse outcomes later in life. Despite the existence of treatments for pediatric OCD, factors like the number of clinicians in one’s area, geographic distance from available clinicians, and low socioeconomic status pose obstacles to receiving them.
This study by Dr. Comer and his team served as an early telehealth trial for pediatric OCD, by testing an Internet-delivered videoconference version of family-based cognitive behavioral therapy (FB-CBT). 22 children with OCD (aged 4-8) and their families received 14 weeks of FB-CBT either through Internet videoconferencing (n=11) or at a clinician’s office (n=11). After comparing the two forms of therapy on symptom reduction, treatment satisfaction, how well the patient and therapists worked together, and parent accommodation of their child’s OCD symptoms, the results showed that virtual FB-CBT worked as well as in-person FB-CBT. Over 90% of children completed the full virtual FB-CBT, and symptoms dropped similarly to in-person FB-CBT over a total of 10 months. This study showed the potential of accessible virtual OCD therapy even before its widespread use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
*Comer, J.S., Furr, J.M., Kerns, C.E., Miguel, E., Coxe, S., Elkins, R.M., Carpenter, A.L., Cornacchio, D., Cooper-Vince, C.E., DeSerisy, M., Chou, T., Sanchez, A.L., Khanna, M., Franklin, M.E., Garcia, A.M., & Freeman, J.B. (2017). Internet-delivered, family-based treatment for early-onset OCD: A pilot randomized trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 85(2), 178-186. doi:10.1037/ccp0000155.