Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Short-Term Course of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

This article was originally published here

J Nerv Ment Dis. 2021 Feb 23. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000001318. Online ahead of print.


There is an understandable concern that obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may worsen during the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are little empirical data. We report the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the short-term course of OCD. A cohort of patients with a primary diagnosis of OCD (n = 240) who were on regular follow-up at a tertiary care specialty OCD clinic in India were assessed telephonically, about 2 months after the declaration of the pandemic (“pandemic” cohort). Data from the medical records of an independent set of patients with OCD (n = 207) who were followed up during the same period, 1 year prior, was used for comparison (historical controls). The pandemic group and historical controls did not differ in the trajectories of the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale scores (chi-square likelihood ratio test of the group × time interaction = 2.73, p = 0.255) and relapse rate (21% vs. 20%; adjusted odds ratio, 0.81; 95% confidence interval, 0.41-1.59; p = 0.535). Preexisting contamination symptoms and COVID-19-related health anxiety measured by the COVID-Threat Scale did not predict relapse. Only a small proportion of patients (6%) reported COVID-19-themed obsessive-compulsive symptoms. The COVID-19 pandemic, at least in the short run, did not influence the course of illness.

PMID:33625069 | DOI:10.1097/NMD.0000000000001318