Background: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a distressing and debilitating condition affecting 1-2% of the population. Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is a behaviour therapy for OCD with the strongest evidence for effectiveness of any psychological therapy for the condition. Even so, only about half of people offered ERP show recovery after the therapy. An important reason for ERP failure is that about 25% of people drop out early, and even for those who continue with the therapy, many do not regularly engage in ERP tasks, an essential element of ERP. A mindfulness-based approach has the potential to reduce drop-out from ERP and to improve ERP task engagement with an emphasis on accepting difficult thoughts, feelings and bodily sessions and on becoming more aware of urges, rather than automatically acting on them.
Methods/design: This is a pilot randomised controlled trial of mindfulness-based ERP (MB-ERP) with the aim of establishing parameters for a definitive trial. Forty participants diagnosed with OCD will be allocated at random to a 10-session ERP group or to a 10-session MB-ERP group. Primary outcomes are OCD symptom severity and therapy engagement. Secondary outcomes are depressive symptom severity, wellbeing and obsessive-compulsive beliefs. A semi-structured interview with participants will guide understanding of change processes.
Discussion: Findings from this pilot study will inform future research in this area, and if effect sizes on primary outcomes are in favour of MB-ERP in comparison to ERP, funding for a definitive trial will be sought.
Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials registration number ISRCTN52684820. Registered on 30 January 2014.