Content and correlates of checking related to symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder

J Anxiety Disord. 2011 Mar;25(2):293-301. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2010.09.014. Epub 2010 Dec 8.


In addition to the central role of compulsive behaviors in obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), recent data have documented the presence of compulsive behaviors in individuals with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). However, there is a lack of information about potential similarities and differences with regard to the quality, or content, of checking associated with worry and obsessions. The two studies presented herein are an initial step towards gathering this information. Findings of Study 1, from a large unselected undergraduate sample, showed that symptoms of OCD and GAD were both significantly associated with checking behaviors. However, while OCD symptoms were associated with checking related to both objects and interpersonal situations, GAD symptoms were only significantly associated with interpersonal checking. Findings of Study 2, using a separate sample, suggest links between interpersonal checking and features characteristic of GAD, namely emotion regulation difficulties, and between object checking and a cognitive feature of OCD, namely thought-action fusion. In summary, the current studies add to a growing body of literature suggesting that checking may be important in numerous forms of psychopathology, while also suggesting that the nature and function of checking may differ for various symptom profiles.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Compulsive Behavior / diagnosis
  • Compulsive Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obsessive Behavior / diagnosis
  • Obsessive Behavior / psychology*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Regression Analysis
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult