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Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Multiracial/Ethnic Analysis of a Student Population

Washington, Christi S. MA; Norton, Peter J. PhD; Temple, Samuel BA

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: June 2008 - Volume 196 - Issue 6 - p 456-461
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3181775a62
Original Article

The Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale and the Padua Inventory Washington State University Revision are commonly used measures of obsessive-compulsive disorder. They have been shown to be reliable and valid with both clinical and nonclinical samples. However, their psychometrics have primarily been assessed using homogenous white samples. This is a concern because while some studies of anxiety measures among multiple racial and ethnic groups suggest equivalence (e.g., Norton, J Anxiety Dis. 2005;19:699–707), others report significant racial/ethnic differences and unequal predictive validity (e.g., Thomas et al., Assessment. 2000;7:247–258). This study examined 2 measures of obsessive-compulsive symptoms using a large sample of African American, white, Hispanic/Latino, Southeast Asian, and South Asian/East Indian students. Preliminary analyses indicated that Southeast and South Asian/East Indian participants reported significantly more symptoms on the Padua Inventory Washington State University Revision, although only South Asian/East Indian participants also reported a correspondingly higher rate of interference and distress associated with their symptoms. Comparable psychometric estimates were observed across all groups. Differences by race/ethnicity are discussed regarding potential variables that may act as moderators or mediators in addition to clinical and research implications.

Department of Psychology, University of Houston, Houston, Texas.

Supported by an NIMH Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (1K01MH073920) and University of Houston Grant to Enhance and Advance Research award.

Send reprint requests to Peter J. Norton, PhD, Department of Psychology, 126 Heyne Bldg., University of Houston, Houston, TX 77204-5022. E-mail:

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.