Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Rev Bras Psiquiatr. 2007 Dec;29(4):303-7.

Response of symptom dimensions in obsessive-compulsive disorder to treatment with citalopram or placebo.

Author information

  • 1University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.



There is increasing evidence that the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder lie on discrete dimensions. Relatively little work has, however, explored the relationship between such factors and response to pharmacotherapy.


Data from a multi-site randomized placebo-controlled study of citalopram in obsessive-compulsive disorder were analyzed. Factor analysis of individual items and symptom categories of the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale Checklist were undertaken, and the impact of symptom dimensions on treatment outcomes was analysed.


Factor analysis of Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale Checklist individual items yielded 5 factors (contamination/cleaning, harm/checking, aggressive/sexual/religious, hoarding/symmetry, and somatic/hypochondriacal). Hoarding/symmetry was associated with male gender, longer duration of obsessive-compulsive disorder and early onset, whereas contamination/cleaning was associated with female gender. Citalopram was more effective than placebo, but high scores on the symmetry/hoarding and contamination/cleaning subscales predicted worse outcome at the end of study while high scores on the aggressive/religious/sexual subscale predicted better outcome. Factor analysis of Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale Checklist symptom clusters yielded a 4 factor solution, but confirmed that symmetry/ordering was associated with male gender, early onset, and long duration of obsessive-compulsive disorder while high scores on the hoarding subscale predicted worse response to pharmacotherapy.


Citalopram shows good efficacy across the range of obsessive-compulsive disorder symptom dimensions. The relatively worse response of symmetry/hoarding to a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor is consistent with other evidence that this symptom dimension is mediated by the dopamine system. There may be associations between symmetry/hoarding, male gender, early onset, tics, and particular genetic variants; further work is, however, needed to delineate fully obsessive-compulsive disorder subtypes and their underlying neurobiology.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Scientific Electronic Library Online
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk