Challenges in OCD research: Overcoming heterogeneity

Anthony Pinto, Marco A. Grados, Helen Blair Simpson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Introduction Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is a neuro-psychiatric condition characterized by recurrent, intrusive, and distressing thoughts, images, or impulses (obsessions) and repetitive mental or behavioral acts that the individual feels driven to perform (compulsions) to prevent or reduce distress. OCD typically starts in childhood or adolescence, persists throughout a person's life (Skoog & Skoog 1999), and produces substantial impairment in social, family, and work functioning (Koran 2000). With a lifetime prevalence of up to 2–3% (Kessler et al. 2005), the World Health Organization characterizes OCD among the 10 most disabling of all medical and psychiatric conditions in the industrialized world (Murray & Lopez 1996). Obsessions and compulsions are remarkably diverse, and are expressed with great variability both within and across patients over time (Rasmussen & Eisen 1988). Besides differing in the content of their symptoms, OCD patients differ in their course of illness (e.g., early versus late onset) and comorbidity (e.g., tic-related versus non-tic-related OCD). This heterogeneity in the clinical phenotype significantly complicates research on OCD, potentially obscuring findings and reducing power in studies of pathophysiology (including the search for vulnerability genes), course, and treatment outcome. >To advance our understanding of the clinical, neurobiological, and genetic features of OCD, researchers have been actively pursuing strategies for dissecting the heterogeneous phenotype into less complex, more homogeneous components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAnxiety Disorders
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Research, and Clinical Perspectives
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780511777578
ISBN (Print)9780521515573
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Challenges in OCD research: Overcoming heterogeneity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this