Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is a highly disabling psychiatric illness, characterized by obsessional thoughts that cause patients to perform time-consuming and distressing compulsive rituals. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is a first-line psychological treatment of choice, which requires patients to face their fears by being exposed to feared stimuli. However, there are still a significant number of patients that do not improve, especially among those with more limited insight. In addition, a large proportion of patients refuse treatment or drop out during treatment due to the distress provoked by existing treatments. The current research program aims to overcome these limitations and improve treatment outcomes for those with OCD through the further development and validation of a new evidence-based cognitive treatment (Inference-Based Cognitive Therapy; IBCT).
This treatment directly targets sensitive self-domains and the distorted reasoning that is responsible for the intensity and persistence of obsessions, and is likely more tolerable and generalizable for patients with OCD. There is evidence that IBCT is more effective than ERP for patients with limited insight, and the research aims to identify patient characteristics that predict successful treatment outcome to better match individual patients with the most appropriate treatment.
The research will also investigate the importance of addressing negative self-perception during treatment, which has been previously been shown to be strongly related to symptoms, and could play an important role in further improving treatment outcomes for those with OCD, as well as closely related psychiatric conditions like Body Dysmorphic Disorder. The program is designed to maximize potential beneficial health outcomes and offer a new evidence-based treatment option for the large proportion of patients suffering from OCD and related conditions that are unable to benefit from existing treatments.