Prevalence and correlates of obsessive-compulsive disorder and subthreshold obsessive-compulsive disorder among college students in Kerala, India

Indian J Psychiatry. Jan-Mar 2017;59(1):56-62. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.204438.


Context: There are scarce data on the prevalence of adult obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in India.

Aims: The aim was to study the point prevalence of OCD and subthreshold OCD and its psychosocial correlates among college students in the district of Ernakulam, Kerala, India.

Settings and design: A cross-sectional survey of 5784 students of the age range of 18-25 years from 58 colleges was conducted.

Materials and methods: Students were self-administered the OCD subsection of the Clinical Interview Schedule-Revised, the Composite International Diagnostic Interview for obsessive-compulsive symptoms (OCSs), and other relevant instruments to identify OCD, subthreshold OCD, and related clinical measures.

Statistical analysis: The point prevalence of OCD and subthreshold OCD was determined. Categorical variables were compared using Chi-square/Fisher's exact tests as necessary. Differences between means were compared using the ANOVA.

Results: The point prevalence of OCD was 3.3% (males = 3.5%; females = 3.2%). 8.5% students (males = 9.9%; females = 7.7%) fulfilled criteria of subthreshold OCD. Taboo thoughts (67.1%) and mental rituals (57.4%) were the most common symptoms in OCD subjects. Compared to those without obsessive-compulsive symptoms (OCSs), those with OCD and subthreshold OCD were more likely to have lifetime tobacco and alcohol use, psychological distress, suicidality, sexual abuse, and higher attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptom scores. Subjects with subthreshold OCD were comparable to those with OCD except that OCD subjects had higher psychological distress scores and academic failures.

Conclusions: OCD and subthreshold OCD are not uncommon in the community, both being associated with significant comorbidity. Hence, it is imperative that both are identified and treated in the community because of associated morbidity.

Keywords: Adult obsessive-compulsive disorder; India; correlates; prevalence; subthreshold obsessive-compulsive disorder.