Characteristics of individuals seeking treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder

Behav Ther. 2013 Sep;44(3):408-16. doi: 10.1016/j.beth.2013.03.007. Epub 2013 Apr 2.


Despite severe functional impairment, only 35% to 40% of individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) seek treatment, and fewer than 10% receive evidence-based treatment. The current study examined the characteristics of 525 individuals who contacted the clinic of the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania to inquire about OCD treatment and completed a phone screen. Callers who were deemed appropriate for the clinic (n=396, 75%) were invited to participate in an in-person intake evaluation. Only 137 (35%) of the eligible individuals completed the intake evaluation ("treatment intake group") whereas the majority (n=259, 65%) did not ("phone screen-only group"). Compared to individuals in the phone screen-only group, those in the treatment intake group were younger, less likely to endorse depressed mood, and more likely to have received a diagnosis of OCD, to have previously sought psychological services, and to have taken psychotropic medication. The findings suggest that familiarity with their diagnosis and past contact with mental health professionals enhance openness to explore yet another treatment. In contrast, lack of awareness about the problem and depressed mood may reduce openness to seek treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / psychology*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / therapy
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Suicidal Ideation