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Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2004 Jun;61(6):608-16.

Genetic and environmental contributions to the Child Behavior Checklist Obsessive-Compulsive Scale: a cross-cultural twin study.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Vermont, Burlington; Vrije University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



We have reported elsewhere on the development of an 8-item Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (OCS) contained in the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) to identify children who meet criteria for DSM-IV obsessive-compulsive disorder. Twin studies of obsessive-compulsive disorder have indicated a significant genetic component to its expression.


To determine the relative contributions of genetic and environmental influences on childhood obsessive-compulsive behavior using the CBCL OCS in twin samples.


The CBCL data were received by survey of twins in the Netherlands Twin Registry (NTR) and the Missouri Twin Study (USA/MOTWIN).


General community twin samples.


Participants were 4246 twin pairs aged 7 years, 2841 aged 10 years, and 1562 aged 12 years (who also participated in the study at 7 and 10 years of age) from the NTR and 1461 mixed-age twin pairs (average age, approximately 9 years) from the USA/MOTWIN.


Model fitting to test for genetic and environmental influences, sex differences, and sibling interaction/rater contrast effects on the CBCL OCS.


In each case, the best-fitting model was one that indicated significant additive genetic influences (range, 45%-58%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 45%-61%), and unique environmental influences (range, 42%-55%; 95% CI, 39%-55%), with shared environmental influences in the NTR sample aged 12 years (16%). Sex differences were seen in the mixed-age USA/MOTWIN model, but not in the NTR samples. No evidence of dominance, sibling interaction, or rater-contrast effects was seen. These data were relatively consistent across age and cultures.


The CBCL OCS is influenced by genetic factors (approximately 55%) and unique environmental factors (approximately 45%) in the younger sample, with common environmental influences only at 12 years of age. These effects do not vary with differences in sex or sibling interaction/rater contrast effects. Our data reveal higher genetic influences for obsessive-compulsive behavior and do not demonstrate genetic differences across sex.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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