Skip to main content

24-09-2012 | Psychology | Article

Prevalence of OCD in children ‘high’


Free abstract

medwireNews: Results from a Spanish study suggest that the prevalence of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and associated symptoms among children is higher than previously thought.

In a study of 1514 nonreferred children aged 8 to 13 years, Josefa Canals (Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain) and team found that 1.8% met the criteria for OCD, 5.5% had subclinical OCD, and 4.7% had some OC symptomatology.

"This rate [of clinical OCD] was higher than that found by other studies of samples with similar ages, but was in keeping with data obtained from samples of older adolescents," the authors comment.

The researchers recruited 720 boys and 794 girls from 13 primary schools in Catalonia.

All of the children were assessed for OCD and subclinical OCD using the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview for Kids. A diagnosis of OCD was made when a child met full DSM-IV criteria for the disorder, while subclinical OCD was diagnosed when a child did not meet functional impairment criteria.

The researchers found that there was no significant difference in the prevalence of OCD and OC symptomatology between boys and girls, although boys were more likely to have subclinical OCD than girls, at 7.6% versus 3.8%.

Among children with clinical OCD, 85% also had other psychiatric disorders, with generalized anxiety disorder being the most common comorbidity (55%), followed by separation anxiety (40%), depression (35%), and social phobia (30%).

The researchers found that participants with clinical OCD had significantly lower scores on the Children's Global Assessment Scale (CGAS) than those with subclinical OCD, at 61 versus 72, indicating poorer functioning. In turn, children with subclinical OCD had significantly lower CGAS scores than those without OCD symptoms, at 72 versus 93.

Children with OCD also had significantly poorer academic performance than those with either subclinical OCD or those without symptoms.

Canals et al conclude in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders: "The estimated prevalence of clinical and subclinical OCD was high, with high rates of comorbidity and functional impairment, which supports screening in the non-clinical population and the possibility of early diagnosis and treatment."

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Mark Cowen, Senior medwireNews Reporter

Related topics