Skip to main content Accessibility help

Cross-National Epidemiology of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

  • Myrna M. Weissman


Our knowledge of the prevalence and demographic and clinical characteristics of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has, until recently, been based almost exclusively on patient samples. The epidemiology of OCD was first described in a large United States household sample from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) study. Since these original observations, the rates of OCD in household populations determined from diagnostic procedures similar to those used in the United States have been published from different parts of the world. Detailed comparisons of rates, sex ratios, age at onset, and demographic and clinical characteristics of OCD in these samples are now available.

This article reports on the cross-national epidemiology of OCD from seven international epidemiologic surveys, including the United States ECA study. Each survey used the Diagnostic Interview Schedule (DIS), a highly structured interview, developed for use in epidemiologic surveys, that yields Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition (DSM-III) psychiatric diagnoses. All investigators provided the data from their study to be pooled at Columbia University, and the prevalence rates were standardized to the age and sex distribution of the five-site ECA household population so that more precise estimates and comparisons could be made.



Hide All
1.Karno, M, Golding, JM, Sorenson, SB, et al.The epidemiology of obsessive-compulsive disorder in five US communities. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1988;45:10941099.
2.Karno, M, Golding, JM. Obsessive-compulsive disorder. In: Robins, LN, Regier, DA, eds. Psychiatric Disorders in America: The Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study. New York: Free Press; 1991:204219.
3.Robins, LN, Helzer, JE, Croughan, JL, et al.The NIMH Diagnostic Interview Schedule: its history, characteristics, and validity. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1981;38:381389.
4.Weissman, MM, Bland, RC, Canino, GJ, et al.The cross national epidemiology of obsessive-compulsive disorder. J Clin Psychiatry. 1994;55(3, suppl):510.
5.Valleni-Basile, LA, Garrison, CZ, Jackson, KL, et al.Frequency of obsessive-compulsive disorder in a community sample of young adults. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatr. 1994;33:782791.
6.Hollander, E, Greenwald, S, Neville, D, Johnson, J, Hornig, CD, Weissman, MM. Uncomplicated and comorbid obsessive-compulsive disorder in an epidemiologic sample. Depression and Anxiety. 1996/1997;4:111119.
7.Hollander, E, Schiffman, E, Cohen, B, et al.Signs of central nervous system dysfunction in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1990;47:2732.
8.Hollander, E, DeCaria, CM, Aronowitz, B, Klein, DF, Liebowitz, MR, Shaffer, D. A pilot follow-up study of childhood soft-signs and the development of adult psychopathology. J Neuropsychiatr Clin Neurosci. 1991;3:186189.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

CNS Spectrums
  • ISSN: 1092-8529
  • EISSN: 2165-6509
  • URL: /core/journals/cns-spectrums
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed