Behavior Therapy Versus Clomipramine for the Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Children and Adolescents

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To compare, via a pilot study, the effectiveness of behavior therapy and of drug treatment in children and adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder.


Twenty-two children aged between 8 and 18 years were randomly assigned to behavior therapy (n = 12) or open clomipramine (n = 10) in a parallel design lasting 12 weeks. Behavior therapy included exposure and response prevention administered in weekly sessions. The mean dosage of clomipramine was 2.5 mg/kg (range = 1.4–3.3 mg/kg). The main outcome variables were the Children's Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (CY-BOCS) and the Leyton Obsessional Inventory-Child Version (LOI-CV).


Significant improvement was obtained in both treatment conditions. Behavior therapy produced stronger therapeutic changes than clomipramine on the CY-BOCS (p < .05), whereas on the LOI-CV no significant differences between the results of the two treatments were found. Five of the nine initial nonresponders showed significant changes after extension of treatment for another 12 weeks.


Behavior therapy is shown to be a good alternative for drug treatment and deserves further study in larger samples of children with obsessive-compulsive disorder. J. Am. Acad. Child Adolesc. Psychiatry, 1998, 37(10):1022–1029.

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