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Psychiatry Res. 2001 Nov 1;104(2):99-108.

Religiosity and religious obsessions in obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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Maryland Psychiatric Research Center and Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland, P.O. Box 21246, Baltimore, MD 21228, USA.


Religion has often been thought to play a part in the genesis of some cases of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In this study, we explored the relationship between religiosity, religious obsessions, and other clinical characteristics of OCD. Forty-five outpatients with OCD were evaluated with the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) and the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Checklist (Y-BOCC) as well as the Religious Practices Index (RPI), which was developed for this study. On the basis of these evaluations, 42% of the patients were found to have religious obsessions. Despite differences in the frequency of religious obsessions found in this study compared with others, a factor analysis revealed the symptom dimensions to be similar to those found in other OCD samples. There was no significant difference in the overall severity of obsessions and compulsions between patients with and without religious obsessions. RPI scores did not differ significantly between groups. We failed to find a relationship between RPI scores or religious obsessions and any particular type of obsession or compulsion. A logistic regression analysis revealed that the sole predictor of the presence of religious obsessions was a higher number of types of obsessions. In conclusion, we failed to find a conclusive relationship between religiosity and any other clinical feature of OCD, including the presence of religious obsessions. On the other hand, we showed that the patients who tend to have a variety of obsessions are more likely also to have religious obsessions. Thus, religion appears to be one more arena where OCD expresses itself, rather than being a determinant of the disorder.

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