Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) has been established as efficacious for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) among older children and adolescents, yet its effect on young children has not been evaluated sufficiently.
To examine the relative efficacy of family-based CBT (FB-CBT) involving exposure plus response prevention vs an FB relaxation treatment (FB-RT) control condition for children 5 to 8 years of age.
Design, Setting, and Participants
A 14-week randomized clinical trial (Pediatric Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Treatment Study for Young Children [POTS Jr]) conducted at 3 academic medical centers between 2006 and 2011, involving 127 pediatric outpatients 5 to 8 years of age who received a primary diagnosis of OCD and a Children’s Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale total score of 16 or higher.
Participants were randomly assigned to 14 weeks of (1) FB-CBT, including exposure plus response prevention, or (2) FB-RT.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Responder status defined as an independent evaluator–rated Clinical Global Impression–Improvement scale score of 1 (very much improved) or 2 (much improved) and change in independent evaluator–rated continuous Children’s Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale total score.
Family-based CBT was superior to FB-RT on both primary outcome measures. The percentages of children who were rated as 1 (very much improved) or 2 (much improved) on the Clinical Global Impression–Improvement scale at 14 weeks were 72% for FB-CBT and 41% for FB-RT. The effect size difference between FB-CBT and FB-RT on the Clinical Global Impression–Improvement scale was 0.31 (95% CI, 0.17-0.45). The number needed to treat (NNT) with FB-CBT vs FB-RT was estimated as 3.2 (95% CI, 2.2-5.8). The effect size difference between FB-CBT and FB-RT on the Children’s Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale at week 14 was 0.84 (95% CI, 0.62-1.06).
Conclusions and Relevance
A comprehensive FB-CBT program was superior to a relaxation program with a similar format in reducing OCD symptoms and functional impairment in young children (5-8 years of age) with OCD.
clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00533806