Professor Lara Farrell
Professor Lara Farrell

Professor Lara Farrell

FAST (Families Accessing online Skills Training) CBT for Paediatric OCD: A nationwide randomised controlled trial.

School of Applied Psychology and Centre for Mental Health
Griffith University, QLD
Awarded 2023
0-12 years Mental Health Research

“Despite childhood OCD affecting more than one in 50 children, there are currently no specialised services for OCD in Australia, and rarely do families receive evidence-based treatments that work.”

Mental Health Research Grants

Researcher Profile

Dr Lara Farrell is a Clinical Psychologist and Professor within the School of Applied Psychology, and Deputy Director of the Centre for Mental Health, Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus. Dr Farrell conducts clinical research in the field of childhood anxiety and obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders. Her work has involved numerous highly cited clinical trials for child anxiety/phobias and OCD, including group treatments, intensive treatments, digital and virtual reality interventions, and novel pharmacological augmentation of CBT.

She has a particular interest in understanding predictors and moderators of treatment response. She has published more than 130 peer-reviewed papers and/or chapters in her field of research. She has recently been appointed Editor-In-Chief (incoming 2023) for Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review. Dr Farrell has also been a regular Panel Member for the NHMRC and MRFF Grant Review Panels. She has received funding for research from Griffith University, Australian Rotary Mental Health Research, Foundation for Children, Gold Coast Hospital Foundation, Brisbane Catholic Education, Australian Research Council (ARC) and National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). She oversees the “OCD Busters” and “Child Phobia” research treatment programs at Griffith University.

Project Summary

OCD onsets early in childhood and is associated with profound impairments at home, school and with peers. Sadly, an early onset of OCD and delayed access to care are robust predictors of poorer prognosis and escalating mental health problems over time.

Despite the well-documented burden associated with OCD, most children never receive first-line, cognitive-behavioural treatment including exposure and response prevention (CBTERP), highlighting an unacceptable treatment gap for OCD.

Technology and parents are crucial enablers of earlier access to CBT-ERP for children with OCD. Our team has developed a novel multi-technology intervention that trains parents to be ‘ERP coaches’ for their children via four self-directed web-based modules and

videoconference group sessions with a therapist (i.e., FAST-CBT: Families Accessing online Skills Training in CBT). The multi-technology approach empowers families by transferring effective therapies (i.e., ERP) for OCD directly to parents ’where they are’, thereby increasing earlier access and more immediate relief to children and families in need.

We will conduct a nationwide randomised controlled trial of FAST-CBT relative to care as usual, for children with clinical and subthreshold OCD, to determine efficacy and cost-effectiveness as

a first-line, efficient modality of CBT-ERP. This scalable, digitally enabled intervention has wide reaching clinical potential, as a stand-alone intervention, or as one component within a suite of interventions within a stepped or staged care model of treatment for OCD.

Co-Investigators: Professor Allison Waters, Professor Caroline Donovan, Iain Perkes, Jessica Grisham, Professor Sonja March, Katelyn Dyason, Matthew McKenzie, Gabrielle Paton, Rob Ware and Joshua Byrnes.

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