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Context is Everything: An Investigation of Responsibility Beliefs and Interpretations and the Relationship with Obsessive-Compulsive Symptomatology across the Perinatal Period

  • Roxanne Barrett (a1), Abigail L. Wroe (a1) and Fiona L. Challacombe (a2)

Background: The cognitive-behavioural model of perinatal OCD suggests the role of increased sense of responsibility during the perinatal period in the development and maintenance of obsessive-compulsive symptoms. However, the idiosyncratic nature of responsibility attitudes and interpretations of intrusions is not fully understood. Aims: To investigate how responsibility interpretations regarding intrusions vary across the perinatal period and how this relates to obsessive-compulsive symptomatology. Method: 94 women (26 antenatal, 35 postpartum and 33 non-childbearing controls) completed measures of responsibility attitudes and interpretations regarding specific intrusions (either general or baby-related), as well as obsessive-compulsive symptomatology, anxiety and depression. Results: Postpartum ratings of responsibility interpretations regarding baby-related intrusions were significantly higher than: i) postpartum ratings of responsibility interpretations regarding non-baby intrusions; and ii) control group responsibility interpretations. The groups were not significantly different regarding general responsibility ratings. Ratings of baby-related responsibility interpretations predicted variance in obsessive-compulsive symptomatology. Conclusion: The postpartum group showed significant differences in responsibility interpretations regarding baby-related intrusions. These responsibility interpretations were shown to predict obsessive-compulsive symptomatology.

Corresponding author
Reprint requests to Abigail L. Wroe, Department of Clinical Psychology, Royal Holloway University of London, Holloway Hill, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, UK. E-mail:
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Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
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  • EISSN: 1469-1833
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