Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy in children and adolescents with obsessive compulsive disorder: a feasibility study

Karsten Hollmann, Katharina Allgaier, Carolin S. Hohnecker, Heinrich Lautenbacher, Verena Bizu, Matthias Nickola, Gunilla Wewetzer, Christoph Wewetzer, Tord Ivarsson, Norbert Skokauskas, Lidewij H. Wolters, Gudmundur Skarphedinsson, Bernhard Weidle, Else de Haan, Nor Christan Torp, Scott N. Compton, Rosa Calvo, Sara Lera-Miguel, Anna Haigis, Tobias J. RennerAnnette Conzelmann

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the first choice of treatment of obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) in children and adolescents. However, there is often a lack of access to appropriate treatment close to the home of the patients. An internet-based CBT via videoconferencing could facilitate access to state-of-the-art treatment even in remote areas. The aim of this study was to investigate feasibility and acceptability of this telemedical approach. A total of nine children received 14 sessions of CBT. The first session took place face-to-face, the remaining 13 sessions via videoconference. OCD symptoms were recorded with a smartphone app and therapy materials were made accessible in a data cloud. We assessed diagnostic data before and after treatment and obtained measures to feasibility, treatment satisfaction and acceptability. Outcomes showed high acceptance and satisfaction on the part of patients with online treatment (89%) and that face-to-face therapy was not preferred over an internet-based approach (67%). The majority of patients and their parents classified the quality of treatment as high. They emphasized the usefulness of exposures with response prevention (E/RP) in triggering situations at home. The app itself was rated as easy to operate and useful. In addition to feasibility, a significant decrease in obsessive–compulsive symptoms was also achieved. Internet-based CBT for pediatric OCD is feasible and well received by the patients and their parents. Furthermore, obsessive–compulsive symptomatology decreased in all patients. The results of this study are encouraging and suggest the significance of further research regarding this technology-supported approach, with a specific focus on efficacy. Trial registration number: Clinical trials AZ53-5400.1-004/44.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1445-1459
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of neural transmission (Vienna, Austria
Issue number9
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021


  • App
  • Children
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Internet-based psychotherapy
  • Obsessive–compulsive disorder

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