Symptom clusters in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): influence of age and age of onset

Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2010 Apr;19(4):365-70. doi: 10.1007/s00787-009-0055-2. Epub 2009 Sep 10.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an ailment of heterogeneous nature. It is believed that the age of onset determines the subtype of juvenile OCD. The objective of our study was to evaluate the rates of symptoms' contents and the age of manifestation of the various OCD symptoms in adolescents and adults with early and late onset of disorder. Both authors independently reviewed the medical charts of patients treated for OCD between 1999 and 2007 in a psychiatric university hospital. Patients were evaluated using the Yale-Brown obsessive-compulsive scale check list (Y-BOCS). The patients were grouped as adolescents (group 1), adults with late onset (group 2) and adults with early onset (group 3). Chi2 was used for nominal variables and the non-parametric Kruskal-Wallis ANOVA for continuous comparisons due to deviations from normality of distribution. A total of 132 patients were enrolled in the study (44 group 1, 43 group 2 and 45 group 3). There were no differences in gender distribution. Religious, sexual and miscellaneous obsessions were more frequent and somatic less frequent in group 1 than in group 2. Contamination compulsions were most seldom found in group 1. Cleaning obsessions were more frequent in group 3 than in group 1. Checking were the rarest and miscellaneous, the most often compulsion among adolescents in comparison to other groups. The symptoms' content in adolescents differed from those observed in adult, both with early and later onset of the disease. The age at onset influences the rates of adult patients' compulsions.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Age of Onset
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / psychology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Young Adult