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J Anxiety Disord. 2010 Apr;24(3):313-7. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2010.01.003. Epub 2010 Jan 11.

Changes in disgust correspond with changes in symptoms of contamination-based OCD: a prospective examination of specificity.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University, 301 Wilson Hall, 111 21st Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203, USA.


Although several studies have implicated disgust in contamination-based obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), there remains a paucity of research examining this relationship prospectively. To address this gap in the literature, undergraduate students (n=177) participated in a 12-week prospective study for which they completed measures of contamination-based OCD symptoms, disgust, and negative affect. Change in disgust levels over the 12-week period predicted change in symptoms of contamination-based OCD, even when controlling for age, gender, and change in negative affect. However, this association was driven by change in the perceived negative impact of experiencing disgust (disgust sensitivity) rather than change in the intensity that disgust is generally experienced (disgust propensity). Subsequent analyses also revealed that change in disgust sensitivity fully mediated the association between change in disgust propensity and change in symptoms of contamination-based OCD. The implications of these findings for further delineating the causal role of disgust-related vulnerabilities in contamination-based OCD are discussed.

(c) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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