Tic-Related Versus Tic-Free Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Clinical Picture and 2-Year Natural Course

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OBJECTIVE: The tic-related subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has a distinct clinical profile. The course of tic-related OCD has previously been investigated in treatment studies, with inconclusive results. This study aimed to compare clinical profiles between tic-related and tic-free OCD patients and to establish the influence of tics on the 2-year natural course in adult OCD patients.

METHODS: Within the Netherlands OCD Association cohort, 377 patients with a current DSM-IV diagnosis of OCD were divided into a tic-related group (28%) and a tic-free group and compared on clinical variables with t tests or χ² tests. Linear mixed-model analyses were used to compare the 2-year course between the groups, with the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) as primary outcome measure. Data were collected from 2005 to 2007 and from 2007 to 2009.

RESULTS: Compared to patients with tic-free OCD, those with tic-related OCD reported earlier disease onset (P = .009) and more symmetry/ordering symptoms (P = .002). Overall symptom severity was similar in both groups. Patients with tic-related OCD reported increased traits of attention-deficit hyperactivity (P < .001) and autism (P = .005) compared to the tic-free OCD group. Clinical improvement at 2-year follow-up (mean = 5.3-point decrease on the Y-BOCS, P < .001, 95% CI = 4.3 to 6.3) was not significantly moderated by tic status (P = .24). This remained unchanged after correcting for baseline differences.

CONCLUSIONS: Tics do not critically affect the 2-year course of adult OCD, but tic-related OCD shows differences from tic-free OCD, such as early onset and increased autism and ADHD traits, that may indicate a neurodevelopmental subtype.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1240-e1247
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychiatry
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016


  • Journal Article

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