Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Towards Better Understanding and Outcomes

Kenneth C. Kirkby


Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2003;16(1) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Purpose of Review: To provide an overview of recent publications on obsessive-compulsive disorder, illustrating progress made in the characterization and prevalence of the disorder, diagnostic spectrum, aetiological factors, pathophysiology and neuropsychology, treatment interventions and outcomes. The sample is limited to selected articles with obsessive-compulsive disorder in the title, derived from Current Contents and Medline searches covering the 12-month period from July 2001.
Recent Findings: Progressive additions to our existing evidence base are more apparent than any major breakthroughs. Research into the many facets of the neuropsychological and biological substrates of obsessive-compulsive disorder is gaining in sophistication, including the fields of genetics, imaging and immunology. Many clinical conundrums in the areas of comorbidity beckon the critical thinker and data gatherer. Delivery of evidence based psychological treatments to those in need remains a challenge.
Summary: Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a complex and often chronic disorder yet responds well to a number of specific treatment interventions. Research is converging on basic understanding of what is unique about obsessive-compulsive disorder and how better to target treatments.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common and at times disabling mental disorder. The following survey considers recent research regarding the characterization of its varied presentations, the complexities of its aetiology, and its relationship to commonly occurring comorbidities. Further, it reviews our understanding of OCD from the viewpoint of the brain and of the basic cognitive processes tapped by neuropsychology. Finally there is a brief update on the range of treatments available and outcomes achievable.


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