Previous research has indicated that individuals afflicted with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have a very low rate of seeking help from mental health professionals. From standardized psychiatric interviews of 7,214 residents of Edmonton, Canada, we identified 172 subjects with a lifetime diagnosis of OCD; 63 (36.6%) had consulted a doctor about their symptoms. Total number of OCD symptoms (odds ratio [OR] = 2.23) and severe obsessions of violence and other unpleasant thoughts (OR = 2.52) were significantly associated with treatment seeking in multivariate analysis. The absence of association between compulsions and treatment seeking was corroborated by a very low prevalence of treatment seeking (17.3%) in individuals suffering from compulsions only. Our findings suggest that there is a need to teach the public about compulsions, and such a strategy may enhance future public health education programs.
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