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There’s an app for that: Foundation funds research for innovative OCD treatment

02/18/17 08:14:am

Innovation Insider will highlight innovative practices and use of technology to improve patient care. If you have ideas for this feature, please email anne.ballentine@rogershospital.org(\\link sends e-mail).

app.jpgLong known for innovation in Anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder treatments, Rogers is now testing whether a phone app can help those with OCD.

Brad Riemann, PhD, clinical director of Rogers’ OCD and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy services, is leading the groundbreaking research at Rogers Memorial Hospital. 

People with OCD have the tendency to look for the things they are afraid of, according to Riemann. A computer program designed by Riemann and a colleague at San Diego State University addresses that attention bias. He explains that the Cognitive Bias Modification program presents individualized word lists with terms found to be scary or anxiety producing along with neutral words— slowly redirecting the user's attention away from the problematic words and offsetting a potentially stressful reaction.

“We have conducted more than a dozen studies showing that our computer-based OCD treatment helps neutralize the negative reactions that patients experience. Researching whether a smaller version on a phone has the same impact is really exciting,” Riemann shares.

Rogers Foundation has raised $1.6 million to fund the development of the app and research studies to measure its effectiveness for OCD and depression treatment. Two double blind studies are underway with two more starting late spring. The research could ultimately result in the use of the technology as a standalone treatment by those not currently getting treatment in addition to using it as a treatment enhancement with alongside other therapies.

“If it’s shown to be effective, we can literally put the treatment into so many more hands,” says Riemann. "Getting people to comply with a treatment is critical to its success; and we know that providing access to a convenient and user-friendly treatment means a higher likelihood for compliance," he adds.

The most recent results of the research show that participants who use the app for over a month on average pay less attention to cues spontaneously occurring throughout their day, and their OCD and anxiety symptoms are lessened.

Eliminating barriers to treatment through use of technology is one way Rogers Behavioral Health is bringing care to more people and improving quality of life.

If you or someone you know are interested in participating in this research study, call 414-865-2600 or email researchstudies@rogershospital.org(link sends e-mail).

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