Optimizing first line treatments for adults with OCD

V. Nezgovorova, J. Reid, N. A. Fineberg, E. Hollander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


OCD is characterized by obsessions (recurrent, intrusive, unwanted thoughts, images or impulses and compulsions (repetitive behaviors or mental acts that the individual feels compelled to perform), which can manifest together or separately (Fineberg et al., 2020). NICE guidelines suggest that low intensity psychological treatments (including ERP) is the first line treatment for OCD, and that a “stepped care” treatment approach for OCD reserves combination treatment for adults with OCD with severe functional impairment, and for adults without an adequate response to: 1) treatment with an SSRI alone (12 weeks duration) or 2) CBT (including ERP) alone (NICE, 2005). Existing US treatment guidelines (APA guidelines) suggest that there are three first-line treatments for OCD (SSRI, CBT, SSRI+CBT) and recommends combined treatment for patients with an unsatisfactory response to monotherapy or for patients with severe OCD. Although, systematic review and meta-analysis of studies published in 1993–2014 suggest that combination treatment was not significantly better than CBT plus placebo (Ost et al., 2015), based on data from a recent systematic and meta-analysis which searched the two controlled trials registers maintained by the Cochrane Collaboration Common Mental Disorders group, the combination treatment approach is likely to be more effective than psychotherapeutic interventions alone, at least in severe obsessive-compulsive disorder (Skapinakis et al., 2016a). Based on data from Optimal treatment for OCD study conducted by Fineberg et al., (2018) combined treatment appeared to be the most effective especially when compared to CBT monotherapy, but SSRI monotherapy was found as the most cost effective. In this review we summarize available treatment recommendations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number152305
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Adults
  • First line treatments
  • OCD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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