Symptom subtypes of obsessive-compulsive disorder in behavioral treatment studies: a quantitative review

Behav Res Ther. 1996 Jan;34(1):47-51. doi: 10.1016/0005-7967(95)00047-2.


Recent reviews and meta-analytic studies have provided an encouraging account of the effectiveness of behavioral interventions for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). One question regarding these estimates concerns their degree of generalizability to the range of OCD subtypes encountered in clinical settings. The purpose of the present study was to provide a quantitative description of the prevalence of various OCD subtypes (i.e. type of compulsions) within the behavioral treatment literature. We examined 65 studies that permitted classification of patients according to symptom subtype. Patients with primarily cleaning and/or checking compulsions predominated, accounting for 75% of the treatment population. On the other hand, patients with multiple compulsions or other compulsions, such as exactness, counting, hoarding, or slowness rituals were underrepresented, comprising only 12% of the population, which is markedly less than clinical epidemiological estimates. Rates of improvements in patients with OCD are most applicable to patients with cleaning and checking compulsions, but may not yet be generalizable to patients with other symptoms. These findings encourage studies of the efficacy of existing and novel interventions for patients with counting, repeating, symmetry, hoarding, or multiple compulsions in order to broaden the clinical application of OCD behavioral treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy
  • Humans
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / psychology*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / therapy*