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

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

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr. Hofmann is a paid consultant by Merck/Schering-Plough and supported by NIMH grant 1R01MH078308 for studies unrelated to the present investigation.


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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