An experimental study in community volunteers of the effects of focusing on views about seeking help for obsessional problems

Sarah Elliott, Rebecca Read, Paul M. Salkovskis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


People typically delay many years after developing OCD before they seek help. Factors linked to the decision whether to seek treatment have been identified. Decision-making literature suggests that outcomes of decision making are related to the factors which form the focus of attention and awareness. We evaluated whether focussing on enablers for treatment seeking has an impact on predictions of key treatment seeking behaviours in community controls, examining the likelihood of hypothetically seeking treatment. Participants (125) completed a focussing intervention where they were asked to rate how likely they would be to seek help before and after reading and rating for self-applicability specific information designed to focus their attention either on (a) ‘enabler’ factors taken from previous research or (b) on general information about OCD and its treatment. Findings indicated that focussing on either type of information increased the likelihood of hypothetically seeking treatment, with the enabler information facilitating greater increases in the likelihood of active treatment seeking. Health education efforts for those delaying seeking help for mental health difficulties such as OCD may benefit from more specific attention to increasing the salience of treatment enablers as well as problem specific information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders
Early online date19 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018



  • Decision making
  • Help seeking
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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