Project PROVOC

Study Information:

Project PROVOC is a research study investigating differences in brain circuitry between people with OCD and those with either a specific phobia or no history of psychiatric diagnosis. This research could lead to a better understanding of how OCD works in the brain and pave the way for new or improved OCD treatments.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Men and women aged 18-65 years.
  • Ability to travel to Butler Hospital for study visit(s).
  • Ability to attend virtual visits on the computer over the internet.
  • You fall into one of these groups:

    1. You have OCD.

    2. You have a specific phobia, such as snakes, spiders, blood, or needles.

    3. You have no history of being diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder.


Participants with a specific phobia will be compensated up to $105 for their time and effort. Participants with OCD or no history of psychiatric diagnosis will be compensated up to $230 for their time and effort. This difference in compensation reflects the increased amount of time participants with OCD or no history of psychiatric diagnosis will spend in the study.

More Information/FAQ

What will happen if I join the study?

First, you will attend two assessment visits. The first visit will be in-person or virtual, and the second will be virtual, about a week after the first visit. The day after your second visit, you will attend an in-person visit at Butler Hospital. During this visit, you will participate in a few tasks, including symptom provocation of OCD, specific phobia, or general distress, while being monitored by our researchers and equipment. If you are in either the OCD or Control group, there will be 10 additional virtual visits. During these short visits, you will repeat some of the tasks you performed in the clinic at Butler, but this time virtually over the internet. Each of these visits will be spaced about a week apart.

How will my symptoms be provoked?

Symptoms of OCD, specific phobia, or general distress will be provoked digitally (images displayed on a computer) and through gradual in-person exposure to distressing objects. The distressing images and objects will be discussed and selected by yourself and a clinician to tailor the experience to you without causing too much distress. You will have the opportunity to stop the procedure at any time.

How long will this take?

All participants will undergo two assessment visits and an in-person visit over the span of 1-2 weeks. Participants with OCD or no history of psychiatric diagnosis will then attend a short virtual visit, once a week, for 10 weeks.

Primary Principal Investigator

Nicole McLaughlin, PhD

Butler Hospital

Area of Study