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Randomized controlled trial of cognitive-behavioural therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder in autistic-spectrum disorders


The development of effective treatments for mental disorders represents a major challenge for disciplines related to both the basic and applied neurosciences as well as one of the main goals of health policies in Europe. Autistic-spectrum disorders (ASD) a re common mental disorders characterized by pervasive developmental abnormalities in social and emotional behaviour.

People with ASD frequently experience significant problems associated with their social-communication and cognitive impairments and there is increasing evidence that individuals with ASD may be particularly prone to developing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and obsessive-compulsive (o-c) symptoms.

There are currently few services for adults with ASD. Effective pharmacological and cognitive-behavioural treatments (CBT) for OCD exist, but they have not been systematically evaluated for adults with ASD. Therefore adults and young people with ASD (and specifically those with co-morbid ASD and OCD) are underprovided for in terms of their mental health needs.

The main goal of the project is to test the efficacy of CBT for OCD in ASD by means of a randomized controlled trial (RCT). An additional goal is to disseminate the findings with the aim of increasing accessibility to effective psychologica l treatments for this population. It represents the first attempt ever to find an effective treatment for this population in a controlled way.

The project also constitutes a further step in the development of the multidimensional model of OCD, an area of interdisciplinary research, and aims at bringing basic clinical knowledge through to the application stage.

On an individual level, the project would represent an opportunity for the applicant to be trained in the design and practical development of RCTs of CBT for mental health problems, a rapidly emerging field, which is virtually non-existent in his country of origin.

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The Strand
United Kingdom

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