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Keywords:

  • obsessive–compulsive disorder;
  • age at onset;
  • children;
  • adults;
  • phenomenology

Objective:  To examine clinical correlates of juvenile-onset OCD across the lifespan.

Method:  Data collected at the intake interview from 257 consecutive participants with juvenile-onset OCD (20 children, 44 adolescents and 193 adults) in a naturalistic study of the clinical course of OCD were examined. Participants and parents of juvenile participants completed a structured diagnostic interview, rater-administered severity measures and self-report questionnaires.

Results:  Children and adolescents (i.e. juveniles) shared similar features with the exception of age at onset and OCD symptom expression. Clinically meaningful differences between juvenile and adult participants were also found. Compared with adults, juveniles were more likely to be male, recall an earlier age at OCD onset and have different lifetime comorbidity patterns.

Conclusion:  Juvenile-onset OCD symptom expression is remarkably similar across the lifespan. However, findings also suggest clinically meaningful differences between juveniles and adults. Future work using a prospective design will improve our understanding of course patterns of juvenile-onset OCD.