Childhood, adolescent and adult age at onset and related clinical correlates in obsessive–compulsive disorder: a report from the International College of Obsessive–Compulsive Spectrum Disorders (ICOCS) Journal Articles uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: Many studies suggest that age at onset (AAO) is an important factor for clinically differentiating patients with juvenile and adult onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The present international study aimed to assess the prevalence of different AAO groups and compare related socio-demographic and clinical features in a large sample of OCD patients. METHODS: A total of 431 OCD outpatients, participating in the ICOCS network, were first categorised in groups with childhood (≤12 years), adolescent (13-17 years) and adult-onset (≥18 years), then in pre-adult and adult onset (≥18 years) and their socio-demographic and clinical features compared. RESULTS: Twenty-one percent (n = 92) of the sample reported childhood onset, 36% (n = 155) adolescent onset, and 43% (n = 184) adult onset. Patients with adult onset showed a significantly higher proportion of females compared with the other subgroups (χ(2 )=( )10.9, p< 0.05). Childhood- and adolescent-onset patients had been more frequently treated with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), compared to adult-onset patients (χ(2 )=( )11.5; p < 0.05). The pre-adult- versus adult-onset analysis did not show any additional significant difference. CONCLUSIONS: The present international multicentre study confirms that OCD onset occurs more frequently before adult age, with approximately one out of five patients showing childhood onset. Pre-adult onset was associated with higher rate of CBT, while adult onset was more prevalent in females.


  • Dell’Osso, Bernardo
  • Benatti, Beatrice
  • Hollander, Eric
  • Fineberg, Naomi
  • Stein, Dan J
  • Lochner, Christine
  • Nicolini, Humberto
  • Lanzagorta, Nuria
  • Palazzo, Carlotta
  • Altamura, A Carlo
  • Marazziti, Donatella
  • Pallanti, Stefano
  • Van Ameringen, Michael
  • Karamustafalioglu, Oguz
  • Drummond, Lynne M
  • Hranov, Luchezar
  • Figee, Martijn
  • Grant, Jon E
  • Zohar, Joseph
  • Denys, Damiaan
  • Menchon, Jose M

publication date

  • October 2016