Obsessive-compulsive symptom dimensions in a population-based, cross-sectional sample of school-aged children.

J Psychiatr Res 2015 Mar 12;62:108-14. Epub 2015 Feb 12.

National Institute of Developmental Psychiatry for Children and Adolescents, CNPq, Rua. Dr. Ovídio Pires de Campos, São Paulo 01060-970, SP, Brazil; Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Unit (UPIA), Department of Psychiatry, Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP), Rua Pedro de Toledo, 590, São Paulo 04038-020, SP, Brazil. Electronic address:

Background: Obsessive-compulsive disorder can be expressed as four potentially overlapping obsessive-compulsive symptom (OCS) dimensions (OCSD) ("symmetry/ordering", "contamination/cleaning", "aggressive/sexual/religious" and "collecting/hoarding"). In clinical samples, some dimensions are more familial and associated with increased psychiatric comorbidity and malfunctioning. However, data concerning OCS and OCSD are scarce in non-clinical samples, particularly among children. The present study aims to estimate: (1) the prevalence and sex/age distribution of OCS/OCSD in a community-based sample of schoolchildren; (2) the association between OCS and additional clinical factors; and (3) the degree of familial aggregation of OCS/OCSD.

Methods: OCS and OCSD were evaluated in 9937 Brazilian school-children (6-12 years-old) and their biological relatives using the Family History Screen. Data analyses included gradient estimated equations and post-hoc tests.

Results: We included data on 9937 index-children, 3305 siblings (13-18 years-old), and 16,218 parents. Biological mothers were the informants in 87.6% of the interviews. OCS were present in 14.7% of the index-children; 15.6% of their siblings; 34.6% of their mothers and 12.1% of their fathers. The prevalence of OCS and each of the OCSD gradually increased from ages 6 to 12 years. Overall, OCS in children were associated with the presence of other psychiatric symptoms, as well as behavioral/school impairment. OCS and each of the four OCSD aggregated significantly within families.

Conclusions: OCS are prevalent and associated with psychiatric symptoms and clinical impairment among school-aged children. OCSD aggregate within families in a dimension-specific fashion. These findings suggest a natural continuum between OCS and OCD with regard to their dimensional character.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2015.01.018DOI Listing
March 2015
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