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Focus on Childhood and Adolescent Mental Health

The Continuity Between DSM-5 Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder Traits and Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms in Adolescence: An Item Response Theory Study

Elien De Caluwé, MSc; David C. Rettew, MD; and Barbara De Clercq, PhD

Published: November 24, 2014

Article Abstract

Objective: Various studies have shown that obsessive-compulsive symptoms exist as part of not only obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) but also obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). Despite these shared characteristics, there is an ongoing debate on the inclusion of OCPD into the recently developed DSM-5 obsessive-compulsive and related disorders (OCRDs) category. The current study aims to clarify whether this inclusion can be justified from an item response theory approach.

Method: The validity of the continuity model for understanding the association between OCD and OCPD was explored in 787 Dutch community and referred adolescents (70% female, 12-20 years old, mean = 16.16, SD = 1.40) studied between July 2011 and January 2013, relying on item response theory (IRT) analyses of self-reported OCD symptoms (Youth Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms Scale [YOCSS]) and OCPD traits (Personality Inventory for DSM-5 [PID-5]).

Results: The results support the continuity hypothesis, indicating that both OCD and OCPD can be represented along a single underlying spectrum. OCD, and especially the obsessive symptom domain, can be considered as the extreme end of OCPD traits.

Conclusions: The current study empirically supports the classification of OCD and OCPD along a single dimension. This integrative perspective in OC-related pathology addresses the dimensional nature of traits and psychopathology and may improve the transparency and validity of assessment procedures.

Volume: 75

Quick Links: Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders

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