Differences between early and late drop-outs from treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder

Idan M. Aderka*, Gideon E. Anholt, Anton J.L.M. van Balkom, Johannes H. Smit, Haggai Hermesh, Stefan G. Hofmann, Patricia van Oppen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To examine characteristics of drop-outs from treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), we studied 121 participants who underwent exposure or cognitive treatment, either alone or with fluvoxamine. OCD symptoms were assessed at pre-treatment, post-treatment, and at every session. No differences in attrition were found between treatment conditions. Drop-outs from treatment (n= 31) were divided into early (before session 6) and late (session 6 or after) drop-outs. We found that early drop-outs had more severe OCD symptoms at termination compared to completers, whereas late drop-outs did not differ from treatment completers. Higher levels of depressive symptoms were associated with early drop-outs, and lower levels with completers. These findings suggest that individuals with high levels of pretreatment depression are at risk for early drop-out with elevated OCD symptoms. Conversly, late drop-outs may be treatment responders who drop out after experiencing substantial improvement. Implications for allocation of resources for attrition prevention are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)918-923
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
National Institute of Mental HealthR01MH078308


    • Attrition
    • Depression
    • Drop-out
    • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
    • Treatment


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