Academic skills in pediatric obsessive-compulsive disorder: A preliminary study

BACKGROUND: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a prevalent and debilitating illness that often begins in childhood and has a significant impact on the functioning of youth and their families. Given that schooling represents a considerable portion of youth’s lives and is a key contributor to their development, identifying impacts of OCD on school performance is important.

METHODS: The present study evaluated academic skill differences in OCD-affected youth age 7 to 18 (n = 25) compared with matched healthy controls (HCs; n = 25), as captured via standardized testing. Analysis of variance was used to examine group effects on the outcome variables.

RESULTS: In comparison with HCs, OCD-affected youth presented with significantly poorer performance in math calculation (P = .029), although mean scores fell in the normative range. Thirty-six percent of the OCD group were in the Below Average range, compared with 12% of the HCs (P = .047). There were no significant between-group differences in word reading or spelling. Academic skills were not associated with symptom severity.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that underperformance in math may be present in a higher-than-expected proportion of OCD-affected youth. Further studies of academic skills are warranted to replicate the current findings and to examine roles of academic enhancers in this vulnerable population.

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