An app to fight the social stigma of OCD reduces symptoms and helps prevent the disorder

According to two published papers led by UV’s Professor Gemma García-Soriano, the esTOCma app "has proved useful in raising awareness of OCD in society, dispelling false myths about it and encouraging people to seek help as soon as possible."

The results of these studies show that after using the app for a few minutes for 4-5 days, the users have a better understanding of the disorder. It also increases the intention to seek help when experiencing OCD-like symptoms.

"It is important to note that we can all’have OCD-like intrusive thoughts, so it is relevant that we learn how to assess them and what to do about them. The app shows users how to differentiate these thoughts and how to assess them before they become a problem", explains Gemma García. According to the professor, after using the esTOCma app, "the obsessive-compulsive symptoms also decrease, which has preventive and mental health promotion effect." The use of the app also reduces the stigmatisation of OCD and the desire to keep a social distance from people who suffer from it. The researcher highlights that the changes "remained the same three months later, so at least in the short term the results seem to be sustainable. User feedback was also excellent. 90% stated that they had learned something, and 90% stated that they would recommend it to a friend."

Pioneering results

The results pioneered in the sense that there have been no similar studies to date. esTOCma is a tool that helps to reduce the stigma of OCD, and shortens the time between first symptoms, diagnosis and seeking empirically validated treatment.

The app was developed by the Research and Treatment Group of Obsessions and Compulsions (I’TOC) of the Universitat de València. The group is made up of university professors, clinical psychology specialists and researchers. They have been researching on the psychopathological aspects and behavioural-cognitive treatment of OCD for over 25 years. They have also studied disorders related to OCD, such as ED, hypochondria or anxiety.

esTOCma is a free app addressed to the general public, people with OCD or who think they might have it, and their families. It provides an entertaining way to learn and understand what OCD is, where to get help, and what proven treatments are available. The app aims to raise awareness of a problem that causes much suffering, due to symptoms, stigma and lack of understanding.

The research team stated that seeking help and seeing a specialist is crucial. "Seeking help as soon as possible leads to a greater therapeutic success. And it will also reduce the suffering of the people affected by the disorder and their families."


Can an app increase health literacy and reduce the stigma associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder? A crossover randomized controlled trial in Journal of Affective Disorders. Gemma García-Soriano, Sandra Arnáez, Antonio Chaves, Gema del Valle, María Roncero, Steffen Moritz. Doi:­024.01.168