Cognitive behaviour therapy and medication in the treatment of obsessive–compulsive disorder

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To compare cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) with CBT plus medication; medication alone; and placebo in the treatment of adult obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD).


Forty-eight participants (43 completers) were recruited into two protocols. In the first protocol, 21 people with OCD were randomly allocated to either a standard medication (fluvoxamine) or standard placebo condition for a 5-month period. Both these groups subsequently received CBT for a further 5 months. In the second protocol, 22 people with OCD received CBT, one group was already stabilized on an antidepressant of choice; the second group was drug naïve.


All active treatments, but not the placebo, showed clinical improvement. There was no difference in treatment response to CBT regardless of whether participants had previously received medication or placebo.


CBT has a more specific antiobsessional effect than medication but CBT plus medication shows greatest overall clinical improvement in mood.

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