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High rates of OCD symptom misidentification by mental health professionals

Kimberly Glazier, MA

Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University, Bronx, NY, USA

Rachelle M. Calixte, BS

Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University, Bronx, NY, USA

Rachel Rothschild, BS

Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University, Bronx, NY, USA

Anthony Pinto, PhD

Columbia University/New York State, Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY, USA

BACKGROUND: More than a decade may pass between the onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms and initiation of treatment. One explanation may be health care professionals’ limited awareness of OCD symptom presentations. We assessed mental health care providers’ ability to identify taboo thoughts as manifestations of OCD.

METHODS: A random sample of 2,550 American Psychological Association members were asked to give diagnostic impressions based on 1 of 5 OCD vignettes: 4 about taboo thoughts and 1 about contamination obsessions.

RESULTS: Three-hundred sixty (14.1%) providers completed the survey. The overall misidentification rate across all vignettes was 38.9%. Rates of incorrect (non-OCD) responses were significantly higher for the taboo thoughts vignettes (obsessions about homosexuality, 77.0%; sexual obsessions about children, 42.9%; aggressive obsessions, 31.5%; and religious obsessions, 28.8%) vs the contamination obsessions vignette (15.8%).

CONCLUSIONS: Mental health professionals commonly misidentify OCD symptom presentations, particularly sexual obsessions, highlighting a need for education and training.

KEYWORDS: obsessive-compulsive disorder, misidentification, taboo thoughts, symptom presentation

ANNALS OF CLINICAL PSYCHIATRY 2013;25(3):201-209

CORRESPONDENCE: Kimberly Glazier, MA Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology Yeshiva University 1165 Morris Park Avenue Bronx, NY 10461 USA E-MAIL: kimberlyglazier@gmail.com
Annals of Clinical Psychiatry ©2013 Frontline Medical Communications Inc.

 
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