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Per Hove Thomsen

The immediate effect of COVID-19 pandemic on children and adolescents with obsessive compulsive disorder

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Background: Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a distressing psychiatric disorder. Traumas may trigger or aggravate OCD symptoms. COVID-19 pandemic has coursed a global crisis and has been associated with onset of psychiatric disorders in adults. Little is known about children/adolescents with OCD. The present study aimed to examine how children/adolescents with OCD react towards COVID-19 crisis. Methods: A questionnaire was distributed to two separate groups of children/adolescents. One group was a clinical group newly diagnosed at a specialized OCD clinic. All the children/adolescents had a current close contact to a therapist or doctor. The other group was a survey group identified through the Danish OCD Association. Most of these children/adolescents were diagnosed years ago, and their primary treatment was completed. For the clinical group, data from patient files was available. Results: In both groups, but most pronounced in the survey group, participants experienced a worsening of their OCD, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. The aggravation of OCD correlated with the worsening of anxiety, depressive symptoms, and the extent of avoidance behavior. For both groups, OCD aggressive symptoms predicted a significant worsening. Poor baseline insight showed a trend to predict a symptom worsening. The worsening was most pronounced in children with early age of onset and a family history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is one of the first studies examining the effect of COVID-19 in children/adolescents with OCD. The effect was examined in two separate populations strengthening the findings. The study points towards an influence of the OCD phenotype, baseline insight suggesting a continued vulnerability, and a family history of psychiatric disorders. Trial registration: The study is approved by the Danish Data Protection Agency (1–16–02-147-20) registered 1st of April 2020. Oral and written information was given to parents and patients and written consent from patients over 15 years and parents were received.

TidsskriftBMC Psychiatry
StatusUdgivet - okt. 2020

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