Category: News

The latest from NOCD

NOCD’s MARS Rating

By Phoebe Kranefuss,


  1. The Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS) is a reliable, multidimensional measure for trialling, classifying, and rating mobile health apps
  2. MARS rates mobile health apps for reliability, quality, scope of information, aesthetics, subjective quality, and perceived impact
  3. The NOCD app received an objective quality score of 4.74/5.00, suggesting excellent quality across all measured categories

How to find the best mental health apps

There are thousands of mobile platforms claiming to improve users’ mental health now available on the iTunes and Google Play stores. Users might not know where to start: which of these are clinically effective? Which are easy to use, reliable, and safe? Are there additional criteria that should be considered in making the choice to use a mobile platform as part of a mental health treatment plan? Early evaluation criteria developed to rate mobile health platforms do exist, but were either too general to provide valuable insight, too complex to make useful information accessible to the average user, or too specific to be applied across all mobile health apps.

The Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS) was developed by a team of researchers at Queensland University of Technology to classify the quality of mobile health apps on a reliable, multidimensional scale. MARS rates app quality by quantifying engagement, functionality, aesthetics, information quality, and subjective quality, offering a comprehensive view of features deemed most important by top clinicians in the field.

NOCD’s MARS Rating

In an independent rating of NOCD, Queensland University and Psyberguide awarded the app a user experience score of 4.74/5.00, tied with Headspace as the third highest user experience score out of 182 ratings overall. Subcategories include a score of 4.90 for engagement, which qualifies the interactivity and customizability of the app; a score of 4.88 for functionality, which qualifies the performance, ease of use, and navigation within the app; and a score of 3.57 in credibility, or evidence-based research.

These scores showcase our continuing efforts to validate the efficacy of the NOCD platform, improve outcomes, and enable research as we work with our Scientific Advisory Board of expert researchers and clinicians. In tandem with the initial results from Columbia University Medical Center’s study of the NOCD app, which suggest that integrated treatment using the app can lead to “significant reduction” in some patients’ OCD symptoms, NOCD’s MARS rating backs NOCD’s incredible user experience. We’re proud of the positive ratings we’ve received, and eager to keep improving NOCD in all of the above criteria!

If you have any ideas as to how we can get better, get in touch!

Columbia University Medical Center’s Study of NOCD 

By Patrick,


  1. An independent team of researchers at Columbia University Medical Center is studying the NOCD app
  2. The study seeks to assess the efficacy of integrated treatment combining in-person therapy and the NOCD app for 30 adult patients with OCD in an 8-week pilot clinical trial, with 5 in-person appointments 
  3. Of the 16 patients eligible thus far, 14 enrolled and 100% would recommend the program to a friend 
  4. Initial results suggest an integrated treatment using the NOCD app can lead to “significant reduction” in some patients’ OCD symptoms

Almost a year ago, the NOCD team was contacted by a research team at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) led by Dr. Helen Blair Simpson, MD, PhD, to investigate the potential use of the NOCD app in an integrated model. Lead author Dr. Marina Gershkovich proposed a study ofthe NOCD app as a novel technology in a stepped-care treatment model for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). 

The CUMC team is testing the NOCD app in conjunction with therapist-guided cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for 30 adults in an 8-week pilot clinical trial. Dr. Gershkovich and her team define “therapist guidance” as 5 in-person therapy sessions and weekly phone calls. Using self-report questionnaires and independent evaluation throughout the trial and two months post-trial, the CUMC team measures patients’ symptoms and treatment experience regularly. The study is funded by a New York State Office of Mental Health Policy Scholar Award and a Director’s Pilot Award to Dr. Gershkovich as the principal investigator. 

This November, Dr. Gershkovich and co-authors submitted a poster application for the 2019 Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) Conference. The submission was accepted, and will be presented in March 2019. In the abstract, CUMC shares exciting preliminary results. Of 16 eligible patients, 14 have enrolled in the integrated treatment trial. All 14 say they would recommend the treatment program to a friend. According to CUMC, “initial results indicate this integrated treatment can lead to significant reduction in OCD symptoms in select OCD patients.” 

The CUMC abstract emphasizes the importance of assessing novel technologies like the NOCD app using three major criteria: acceptability, feasibility, and efficacy. The NOCD team interprets these early results across all three criteria as strong indicators that the NOCD app is well-received by patients, and can give providers greater bandwidth to treat more patients.

The kind of integrated treatment studied here by the CUMC team matches fits seamlessly into NOCD’s stepped-care model, which tailors the type and amount of care someone receives to their level of need. Someone with very severe symptoms may need an inpatient program or more regular outpatient appointments. But a patient with moderate or less severe symptoms benefits greatly from integrated models that offer equally good results while demanding less time, money, and effort. Providers, meanwhile, can see more patients with appropriate symptom severity.

Because the results from this CUMC study suggest the NOCD app could open up opportunities for effective integrated treatment, we’re even more confident about our stepped-care model. The fact that 87% of patients in this small sample decided to enroll shows NOCD’s significant potential to be diffused into the market. 

This independent study at CUMC emerged as part of our continuing efforts to validate the efficacy of the NOCD platform, improve outcomes, and enable research. We have focused throughout the past year on recruiting a Scientific Advisory Board composed of expert researchers and clinicians, and initiating new research projects.

Dr. Blair Simpson is Professor of Psychiatry and Vice Chair of Research in the Department of Psychiatry at CUMC. She also serves as Director of the Center for Obsessive-Compulsive & Related Disorders and the Director of the Translational Therapeutics Programs at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

Dr. Marina Gershkovich is Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology at CUMC at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. She is an accomplished clinician scientist and has served as a CBT therapist on a number of clinical trials funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Disclaimer: The independent researchers at Columbia University Medical Center did not contribute to this blog post. The above are the NOCD team’s interpretations of a poster submission for the 2019 ADAA Conference. The abstract is available in the public domain. 

Introducing NOCD Premium

By Phoebe Kranefuss,

Today, we’re launching NOCD Premium: an in-app, OCD-specific teletherapy service that connects our members with licensed mental health professionals. Premium offers unlimited messaging with one of these NOCD Pros, whether you’re just learning about OCD, trying to stick with your treatment plan, or working to maintain recovery.

NOCD Pros are specially trained in OCD treatment and licensed in the member’s state. They’re experienced clinicians, skilled at tailoring their work to specific needs and goals. Using HIPAA-compliant messaging within the NOCD app, members get reliable answers to all of their questions and improve ongoing treatment with individualized suggestions. Pros provide immediate support when symptoms worsen, allowing members to learn new techniques for responding to their thoughts without using compulsions.

We’re focused on building further resources for those in our community who need help but aren’t in a crisis. The NOCD app provides the resources we wanted during our own treatment journey: evidence-based OCD therapy in an intuitive form, a supportive community, and protected treatment data. But we pay close attention to our growing community, and we’re always hearing from people who need further care. Symptom severity exists on a wide spectrum– and shifts constantly. That’s why we, along with our Clinical and Scientific Advisors, decided to act on this need more urgently.

Like everything we build at NOCD, Premium was designed with constant input from experts. Our Clinical Director, Dr. Stephanie Lonsway, PhD, spearheaded Premium with the help of Scientific Advisor Dr. Patrick McGrath, PhD, and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jamie Feusner, MD. All three have specialized training and extensive experience in treating OCD with exposure and response prevention (ERP), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). These techniques help people confront unwanted thoughts and feelings without trying to escape by performing compulsions. ERP is the most research-backed form of therapy for OCD; both CBT and ACT can play important roles in increasing treatment efficacy.

If NOCD Premium doesn’t provide sufficient support, Pros connect our members with carefully chosen resources nearby– from clinical trials to advanced care and emerging treatment options. Most recently, we’ve partnered with Actify Neurotherapies, a group of clinics focused on providing emerging treatment options for people with depression and OCD, and AMITA Health, a treatment continuum that includes outpatient and residential programs and is run by world-renowned OCD expert and NOCD Scientific Advisor Dr. Patrick McGrath.

While providing individualized education and support, NOCD Pros help members learn about additional treatment options that might be right for them. Getting people access to the best care as soon as possible, from the moment they start wondering if they have OCD all the way through treatment, is vital. The NOCD app, NOCD Premium, and our partnerships work together to create a seamless and comprehensive solution for anyone who might have OCD.

We’re thrilled to release Premium and have you along for the next step in NOCD’s mission to make care more accessible, more connected, and more effective.

NOCD Premium is available in Michigan today, and will be released in additional states throughout 2019. If you live in Michigan, just download the NOCD app to get Premium. Otherwise, please fill out a quick form:

Join the NOCD Premium Waitlist here!

  • We'll use your email to let you know when Premium is available in your location
  • NOCD Premium will be made available on a state-by-state basis

Why Does NOCD Have Sponsored Posts?

By Phoebe Kranefuss,

OCD treatment has always been a bit of a maze. We know this because many of us at NOCD struggled to navigate the healthcare system for years before getting any better.

Today, research suggests most people with OCD are still navigating this maze. They’re not able to access specialists in exposure and response prevention (ERP), the most effective form of therapy for OCD, due to the high cost of ERP sessions, frequent misdiagnosis, and shortages of ERP providers. And many people with OCD are incorrectly prescribed medication by primary care physicians who don’t have a nuanced understanding of OCD.

Given these challenges, many people with OCD live in constant anxiety or go into free fall, causing them to drop out of school, lose their jobs, and withdraw from relationships. To make matters worse, the lack of support available throughout these intense struggles can increase the likelihood that people self-medicate with illicit substances, become severely depressed, or develop other comorbidities. It can rapidly develop into a cruel cycle.

Facing this string of issues, it’s easy to feel hopeless– but we shouldn’t. NOCD is committed to rapidly realigning the OCD treatment system, using a combination of technology and evidence-based clinical support to make care more effective and more widely accessible.

To start the process, we launched a free OCD treatment app with a built-in support community. The NOCD app helps people with OCD more easily understand ERP and start treatment down the best available path. After tens of thousands started using the app, we realized it was a one-stop solution for some of our members. But for those with more severe symptoms, it was only the start of their journey.

That’s why we recently introduced sponsored posts in the NOCD app: to help every one of our members find more robust care options around them, whenever and wherever a need arises.

We partnered with Biohaven Pharmaceuticals to help members who aren’t satisfied with their current treatment participate in clinical trials. As part of these trials, members may get free psychiatric evaluations. Getting to work with an experienced, innovative psychiatrist can be transformative.

To better support those with OCD and comorbid conditions like depression and substance use, we recently started working closely with two new partners:

Actify Neurotherapies offers additional treatment options for comorbid OCD and depression, including transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and ketamine infusion– which involves supervised administration of low doses at one of their clinics. We’re helping our community learn about these options.

AMITA Health offers unique simultaneous treatment options for OCD, depression, and substance use, ranging from intensive outpatient programs to partial hospitalization and residential programs.  

You’re probably wondering: but aren’t these partners paying you guys?

Yes, but that’s not why we promote them. We pass on most partnership opportunities because they won’t help us get our community members immediate help. We only promote companies that fulfill this purpose and are validated by our clinical team as excellent resources.

If your symptoms are severe and you’re looking for more comprehensive forms of care, some of the partners we work with today might be a great fit for you, a family member, or a friend. Others might not feel quite right (feel free to ignore them!). Later this year, we plan to start offering options for those seeking OCD-specific outpatient therapy and teletherapy.

On average, it takes 10-17 years for people with OCD to get better. We think we can do better. Let’s work together to make it happen.

Check out the NOCD app to keep up with our innovative partners: