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Encephale. 2001 May-Jun;27(3):229-37.

[Validation of a scale for responsibility (Salkovskis Responsibility Scale)].

[Article in French]

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UTA, Hôpital Neurologique, 59, boulevard Pinel, 69394 Lyon.


Appraisal of inflated responsibility for harm is the cornerstone of Salkovskis's cognitive theory for obsessive compulsive disorder. The aim of our study is to present the validation study of the French translation of the R scale. The present study compared 50 subjects with obsessive compulsive disorder, 37 patients suffering from social phobia and 183 control subjects on a responsibility questionnaire (R scale). The cognitive hypothesis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) specifies two levels of responsibility-related cognitions: responsibility assumptions (attitudes) and responsibility appraisals (interpretations). The R scale evaluates the responsibility assumptions. Such attitudes should reflect the more generalized tendency to assume responsibility in a given situation, particularly situations involving intrusions and doubts. It is possible that such assumptions may be less specific to OCD. The inclusion of social phobia subjects in the present study allows evaluation of the specificity of any findings to OCD. Patients were diagnosed and classified according DSM IV criteria. The control subjects were taken in the general population. No formal interview was conducted. The three groups were compared for sex, age and educational level. Before treatment, all the participants filled in the Responsibility Scale of Salkovskis (27 items), the Beck Depression Inventory (21 items), the Beck Anxiety Inventory and the Bouvard's Obsessive Compulsive Thoughts Checklist. The results indicate that the two anxious groups scored significantly higher than the control group on Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventories but no significant difference was observed between the two anxious groups. OCD patients scored significantly higher than both social phobic patients and control subjects on the Obsessive Compulsive Thoughts Checklist (OCTC). The social phobic group scored this checklist significantly higher than the control group. In sum, the three groups were different on obsessive compulsive thoughts. On the washing subscale of the Obsessive Compulsive Thoughts Checklist, the OCD patients differed significantly from the control group and the social phobia patients. No difference was observed between the social phobia subjects and the control group. On the two other subscales of the OCTC, the checking and the responsibility scales, the three groups were different: OCD patients scored significantly higher than both social phobic patients and control subjects; the social phobic patients scored higher than the control group. Results support the reliability (test retest) and the internal consistency of the questionnaire. Patients with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and social phobia subjects had significantly elevated score on the total scale compared to control subjects. However social phobia patients did not differ from patients with OCD. So, the responsibility for harm, evaluated by the R-scale seems not to be specific of OCD. This finding does not support the results of two studies (28, 30). But these two studies compared OCD patients with an anxious group including panic disorder with agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder and social phobia. The correlations with a measure of OCD symptoms were higher than the correlations with anxiety and depression. Finally, the factor structure was only studied on the control group. The exploratory factor analysis indicates that the R scale is a two-dimensional scale, reflecting a need to prevent risks and the belief that one has power to harm. The first dimension is less specific to the pathology than the second. Only patients with OCD had significantly elevated score on the "need to prevent risks" compared to the non-clinical group. The two anxious groups differed on "the belief that one has power to harm" from the non-clinical group but social phobia patients did not differ from patients with OCD. In sum, the two subscales of the R scale did not discriminate OCD patients and social phobic subjects. Further research is needed to replicate the present findings and to confirm the two dimensions of the R scale. Overall, the results are consistent with the hypothesis that responsibility beliefs are important in the experience of obsessional problems. However, responsibility assumptions such as the belief that one has the power to harm are shared with social phobia.

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