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Recent research on the treatment of adults with anxiety disorders suggests that aspects of the in-session exposure therapy process are relevant to clinical outcomes. However, few comprehensive studies have been conducted with children and adolescents. In the present study, 35 youth diagnosed with primary obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD; M age = 12.9 years, 49 % male, 63 % Caucasian) completed 12 sessions of exposure and response prevention (ERP) in one of two treatment conditions as part of a pilot randomized controlled testing of a family focused intervention for OCD. Key exposure process variables, including youth self-reported distress during ERP and the quantity and quality of ERP completed, were computed. These variables were examined as predictors of treatment outcomes assessed at mid-treatment, post-treatment, and three-month follow-up, partialing treatment condition. In general, greater variability of distress during ERP and completing a greater proportion of combined exposures (i.e., exposures targeting more than one OC symptom at once) were predictive of better outcomes. Conversely, greater distress at the end of treatment was generally predictive of poorer outcomes. Finally, several variables, including within- and between-session decreases in distress during ERP, were not consistently predictive of outcomes. Findings signal potentially important facets of exposure for youth with OCD and have implications for treatment. A number of results also parallel recent findings in the adult literature, suggesting that there may be some continuity in exposure processes from child to adult development. Future work should examine additional measures of exposure process, such as psychophysiological arousal during exposure, in youth.
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- Exposure and Response Prevention Process Predicts Treatment Outcome in Youth with OCD
Tara S. Peris
- Springer US