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BMC Psychiatry. 2006 Jan 5;6:1.

Exploratory analysis of obsessive compulsive symptom dimensions in children and adolescents: a prospective follow-up study.

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INSERM U513, Faculté de Médecine, Université Paris XII, Créteil, France.



Recent statistical approaches based on factor analysis of obsessive compulsive (OC) symptoms in adult patients have identified dimensions that seem more effective in symptom-based taxonomies and appear to be more stable over time. Although a phenotypic continuum from childhood to adulthood has been hypothesized, no factor analytic studies have been performed in juvenile patients, and the stability of OC dimensions in children and adolescents has not been assessed.


This study was designed to perform an exploratory factor analysis of OC symptoms in a sample of children and adolescents with OC disorder (OCD) and to investigate the course of factors over time (mean follow-up period: four years).


We report for the first time that four symptom dimensions, remarkably similar to those previously described in adults, underlined the heterogeneity of OC symptoms in children and adolescents. Moreover, after follow-up, the symptom dimensions identified remained essentially unmodified. The changes observed concerned the intensity of dimensions rather than shifts from one dimension to another.


These findings reinforce the hypothesis of a phenotypic continuum of OC symptoms from childhood to adulthood. They also strengthen the interest for investigating the clinical, neurobiological and genetic heterogeneity of OCD using a dimension-based approach.

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