Obsessive compulsive symptoms in schizophrenia: frequency and clinical features

Schizophr Res. 2005 Jul 15;76(2-3):309-16. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2005.02.004.


Objective: Prior studies have evaluated the occurrence and clinical effects of obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms in schizophrenia with varied results. This study systematically assessed the frequency and clinical impact of OC symptoms among outpatients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.

Method: One hundred subjects with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder were evaluated with a 20-question detailed screen for the presence of OC symptoms. The severity of OC symptoms was assessed with the Yale Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS). Fifty-eight patients participated in subsequent assessments comparing schizophrenia severity (Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale) functional status (Social and Occupational Functioning Scale) and resource utilization (psychiatric hospitalization) of OC (N=21) and non-OC (N=37) patients.

Results: Thirty percent of patients exhibited two or more OC symptoms, and 19% had at least moderate OC symptoms (Y-BOCS score >or= 16). Twenty-three percent met full DSM-IV criteria for OCD. There were no differences observed between the OC and non-OC groups on any of the clinical outcomes. OC symptoms were developed prior to the onset of schizophrenia in only 28% of patients.

Conclusions: Nearly one-third of patients exhibited clinically significant OC symptoms in this systematic, cross-sectional assessment. However, OC symptoms did not appear to impact the clinical outcome of patients. In most cases, OC symptoms began concurrently with or after the onset of the psychotic disorder. Studies are needed to define the relevance and pathological basis for the co-occurrence of OC symptoms in persons with schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Middle Aged
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Schizophrenia / epidemiology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires