Children with Obsessive-Compulsive Symptomology in the General Population: Different Subtypes?

Josjan Zijlmans, Reshmi Marhe, Jan Van Der Ende, Frank C. Verhulst, Arne Popma, Henning Tiemeier, Odile A. Van Den Heuvel

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a moderately prevalent neurodevelopmental disorder, and many children suffer from subclinical obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms. The disorder is heterogeneous and has high comorbidity rates. In early disease stages of psychiatric disorders, symptoms are typically hard to attribute exclusively to specific disorders. The authors investigated whether profiles of neuropsychiatric symptoms can be distinguished within a large population-based study of school-aged children (7-10 years) scoring high on OC symptoms. Methods: OC symptoms and comorbid symptoms common in pediatric OCD were assessed: symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, autism, and anxiety. Latent profile analysis was performed on the subgroup of children scoring high on OC symptoms (high-OC sample, n = 209, i.e., 4.5% of total sample, n = 4632) using the z scores of the measures of comorbid symptoms as indicators. Results: Three distinguishable profiles were found within the high-OC sample. The first subgroup ("OC-specific"; 81.3%, 3.7% of total sample) had only OC-specific problems, the second subgroup ("Comorbid OC"; 11.0%, 0.5% of total sample) had high scores on all measures of comorbid symptomology, and the third subgroup ("Autistic OC"; 7.7%, 0.3%, of total sample) scored especially high on autism. Conclusion: The findings show that profiles based on neuropsychiatric symptoms can be distinguished within a population-based sample of school-aged children scoring high on obsessive-compulsive symptoms. These profiles may be useful in establishing patterns of symptom course during development. Longitudinal follow-up is necessary to ascertain whether at a later age these subgroups still differ in their symptom profile and neuropsychiatric trajectory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-482
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • latent profiles
  • obsessive-compulsive symptoms
  • pediatric
  • population-based
  • transdiagnostic

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