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How Common Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in a Dermatology Outpatient Clinic?

J Clin Psychiatry 2003;64(2):152-155

Background: This study was prompted by reports suggesting a high prevalence of unrecognized obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in the dermatology clinic.

Method: 92 consecutive dermatology referrals were screened for DSM-IV OCD using the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Inverview (MINI), the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (YBOCS), and the 5-item screening questionnaire from the International Council on OCD. Illness severity was rated on the YBOCS, and symptom profiles and dermatologic diagnoses were established for screen-positive cases.

Results: 18 patients (20%) qualified for a DSM-IV diagnosis of OCD, of whom 17 were previously undiagnosed. The range and type of OCD symptoms covered the normal clinical spectrum. Most patients had more than 1 symptom, and among obsessions (including somatic obsessions), checking, washing, and symmetry were common. The mean total YBOCS score was 16/40 (SD = 7.2), indicating moderate OCD, and 40% of the positive cases scored 16 or higher. Dermatologic diagnoses were various and did not seem to bear a direct relationship with the OCD.

Conclusion: These results suggest that there is a high prevalence of clinically relevant OCD in the dermatology clinic. This is an area that merits attention with regard to better recognition and treatment for OCD sufferers.