Efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder

Dean McKay, Debbie Sookman, Fugen Neziroglu, Sabine Wilhelm, Dan J. Stein, Michael Kyrios, Keith Matthews, David Veale

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which encompasses exposure with response prevention (ERP) and cognitive therapy (CT), has demonstrated efficacy in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, the samples studied (reflecting the heterogeneity of OCD), the interventions examined (reflecting the heterogeneity of CBT), and the definitions of treatment response vary considerably across studies. This review examined the meta-analyses conducted on ERP and cognitive therapy (CT) for OCD. Also examined was the available research on long-term outcome associated with ERP and CT. The available research indicates that ERP is the first line evidence based psychotherapeutic treatment for OCD and that concurrent administration of cognitive therapy that targets specific symptom-related difficulties characteristic of OCD may improve tolerance of distress, symptom-related dysfunctional beliefs, adherence to treatment, and reduce drop out. Recommendations are provided for treatment delivery for OCD in general practice and other service delivery settings. The literature suggests that ERP and CT may be delivered in a wide range of clinical settings. Although the data are not extensive, the available research suggests that treatment gains following ERP are durable. Suggestions for future research to refine therapeutic outcome are also considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-113
Number of pages10
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive therapy
  • Exposure with response prevention
  • Meta-analysis
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Treatment adherence


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