A randomized controlled trial comparing EMDR and CBT for obsessive-compulsive disorder

Zoe Marsden, Karina Lovell, David Blore, Shehzad Ali, Jaime Delgadillo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Background: This study aimed to evaluate eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) as a treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), by comparison to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) based on exposure and response prevention. Method: This was a pragmatic, feasibility randomized controlled trial in which 55 participants with OCD were randomized to EMDR (n = 29) or CBT (n = 26). The Yale-Brown obsessive-compulsive scale was completed at baseline, after treatment and at 6 months follow-up. Treatment completion and response rates were compared using chi-square tests. Effect size was examined using Cohen's d and multilevel modelling. Results: Overall, 61.8% completed treatment and 30.2% attained reliable and clinically significant improvement in OCD symptoms, with no significant differences between groups (p > .05). There were no significant differences between groups in Yale-Brown obsessive-compulsive scale severity post-treatment (d = -0.24, p = .38) or at 6 months follow-up (d = -0.03, p = .90). Conclusions: EMDR and CBT had comparable completion rates and clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e10-e18
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
Issue number1
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • CBT
  • EMDR
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • randomized controlled trial


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