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Age of onset in obsessive-compulsive disorder: clinical impact of early versus late onset

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 — Poster Session III

10:00 a.m. – Noon

Natcher Conference Center




  • LM Rubenstein
  • KR Timpano
  • DL Murphy


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a heterogeneous neuropsychological disorder with a varied duration, course, and symptom profile. Past research has aimed to clarify these differences by defining early and late OCD onset groups to examine the clinical correlates of OCD, including comorbidity patterns, symptom severity and treatment response. This investigation extended past findings by examining patients with early onset (≤15 years) and late onset OCD (>15 years). We divided 594 adult OCD patients into two groups: 406 (68.4%) experienced early onset and 188 (31.6%) had late onset. Patients were evaluated with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV and the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (YBOCS) to measure OCD symptom severity. Patients with early onset OCD had more severe OCD symptoms as reflected in total YBOCS score (p=.004) and had significantly more DSM-IV Axis I disorders (p=.026) than those with late onset OCD. Specifically, those with early onset OCD had more eating disorders (p=.042) and social phobia (p=.002) than the late onset group. Since OCD age-of-onset does not tend to be normally distributed, creating a model of early and late onset may be valuable to characterize the symptom profile of OCD and contribute to genetic investigations and treatment strategies for OCD.

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