June 1993

A 2- to 7-Year Follow-up Study of 54 Obsessive-Compulsive Children and Adolescents

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1993;50(6):429-439. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1993.01820180023003

Objective:  Due to the generally poor prognosis previously reported for patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), this report systematically assessed the outcome of patients who had had access to new psychopharmacologic treatments to determine whether there had been any long-term gains and if there were any predictors of outcome.

Design:  Prospective follow-up study of a cohort of consecutive pediatric patients with OCD who had participated in controlled treatment (clomipramine hydrochloride) trials and then received a variety of interim treatments.

Patients:  Fifty-four children and adolescents were reevaluated 2 to 7 years (mean, 3.4±1.0 years initial clomipramine treatment. Information for 48 (89%) of the patients was from direct interview and for the remaining six (11%) from at least two sources.

Results:  On follow-up, 23 of the subjects (43%) still met diagnostic criteria for OCD, and only three (6%) could be considered in true remission. Thirty-eight subjects (70%) were taking psychoactive medication at the time of follow-up. Although OCD symptoms continued, the group as a whole was significantly improved at follow-up, with only 10 subjects (19%) rated as unchanged or worse. A worse OCD outcome score at follow-up was predicted in a stepwise multiple regression by (1) more severe OCD symptoms score after 5 weeks of clomipramine therapy, (2) lifetime history of a tic disorder, and (3) presence of parental Axis I psychiatric diagnosis (R2=.31, P<.01).

Conclusions:  With new treatments available, most patients with pediatric OCD can expect significant longterm improvements but not complete remission. This study supports previous reports of the chronicity and intractability of the disorder, as there still remained a significant subgroup of subjects who exhibited continued morbidity despite multiple interventions.