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., and 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.
Young patients and families are currently facing obstacles in receiving effective treatment for OCD due to the location of specialty clinics and lack of mental health personnel. The authors examined whether there would be a significant difference in OCD symptoms in children who received family-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (FB-CBT) over videoconferencing versus in-person. FB-CBT is a 14-week program that teaches young children about OCD, where it comes from, and effective skills to face their feared object or situation without resorting to compulsive safety behaviors. Parents also complete modules on the signs and symptoms of OCD in children and how to effectively model the strategies the children are taught in the program. The web-based program uses the same material as in-person sessions would, except children are learning how to face their fears head-on through an interactive game and use the drawing feature in Google Documents for paper and marker tasks.
Twenty-two children (aged 4–8) with OCD were randomly assigned to receive FB-CBT either through videoconferencing or in-person. Those assigned to receive the web-based intervention were offered complimentary video/internet equipment if needed. Children and their parents completed assessments that measured the child’s OCD symptoms, treatment satisfaction, and quality of the therapeutic relationship at baseline, posttreatment, and six months after treatment.
There was no significant difference in treatment outcomes between the internet-delivered program and in-person format, meaning the videoconferencing FB-CBT may be just as effective. Parents of children with OCD in the videoconferencing group also reported high satisfaction in the quality of the therapeutic relationship and the content of the program. Delivering treatment for families via videoconferencing could provide more flexibility and the opportunity to directly or indirectly engage other family members.