The obsessive-compulsive spectrum: A network analysis

Alexandra E Dingemans, S Alida Volkmer, Sandra Mulkens, Richard Vuijk, Yanda R van Rood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Several studies have shown that obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders (ED), autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) share obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms and often co-occur, which could be seen as indicative of a common etiological basis. In addition, they also appear to have similarities in executive functioning. The present study investigated disorder-specific symptoms and executive functioning as a possible joint factor in individuals with OCD (n=53), BDD (n=95), ED (n=171) and ASD (n=73), and in healthy controls (n=110). The participants completed online questionnaires measuring OCD, ED, ASD and BDD related symptoms as well as executive functioning. The clinical groups were first compared to the healthy controls. Subsequently, a network analysis was performed only with the OC-groups. This network approach assumes that psychopathological disorders are the result of causal symptom interactions. As expected, the healthy controls reported less severe symptoms compared to the OC patient groups. The network analysis suggested that the executive functioning skill set shifting/attention switching and the ASD symptoms, social and communication skills were the most central nodes in the model. Difficulty with cognitive flexibility and social factors are central in OC-spectrum disorders and may be perpetuating factors and thus a relevant focus of treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114351
JournalPsychiatry Research
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Dec 2021

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