Frequency of obsessive-compulsive disorder in a community sample of young adolescents

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1994 Jul-Aug;33(6):782-91. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199407000-00002.


Objective: To investigate the frequency and phenomenology of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and subclinical OCD in young adolescents.

Method: A two-stage epidemiological study originally designed to investigate adolescent depression was conducted between 1986 and 1988 in the southeastern United States. In the first stage, a self-report depressive symptom questionnaire was administered to a community sample of 3,283 adolescents. In the diagnostic stage, the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children and the Children's Global Assessment Scale were administered to 488 mother-child pairs.

Results: The prevalences of OCD and subclinical OCD were found to be 3% and 19%, respectively. Prevalences were similar in males and females. Females reported more symptoms of compulsions although males reported more obsessions. About 55% of adolescents with OCD reported both obsessions and compulsions. The most common compulsions were arranging (56%), counting (41%), collecting (38%), and washing (17%). Major depressive disorder (45%), separation anxiety (34%), dysthymia (29%), suicidal ideation (15%), and phobia (8%) were the diagnoses most frequently comorbid with OCD.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that OCD is not infrequent among adolescents and that the characteristic comorbidity and symptomatology of OCD may facilitate earlier identification and treatment by clinicians.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety Disorders / complications
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / complications
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mood Disorders / complications
  • Mood Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mood Disorders / epidemiology
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / complications
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Schizophrenia / complications
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenia / epidemiology
  • Self-Assessment
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology