The rates of co-occurring behavioural addictions in treatment-seeking individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder: a preliminary report (2020)

Vlasios Brakoulias, Vladan Starcevic, Umberto Albert, Shyam S. Arumugham, Brenda E. Bailey, Amparo Belloch, Tania Borda, Liliana Dell’Osso, Jason A. Elias, Martha J. Falkenstein, Ygor A. Ferrao, Leonardo F. Fontenelle, Lena Jelinek, Brian Kay, Christine Lochner, Giuseppe Maina, Donatella Marazziti, Hisato Matsunaga, Euripedes C. Miguel, Pedro Morgado, Massimo Pasquini, Ricardo Perez-Rivera, Sriramya Potluri, Janardhan Y. C. Reddy, Brad C. Riemann, Maria C. do Rosario, Roseli G. Shavitt, Dan J. Stein, Kirupamani Viswasam & Naomi A. Fineberg (2020)

DOI: 10.1080/13651501.2019.1711424

Received 14 Feb 2019, Accepted 23 Dec 2019, Published online: 09 Jan 2020


Objectives: To assess the rates of co-occurring putative ‘behavioural addictions’ in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Methods: Twenty-three international centres specialising in the treatment of OCD were invited to participate in a survey of the rates of behavioural addictions and other relevant comorbidity within their samples.

Results: Sixteen of 23 (69.6%) invited centres from 13 countries had sufficient data to participate in the survey. The use of validated diagnostic tools was discrepant, with most centres relying on a ‘clinical diagnosis’ to diagnose behavioural addictions. The final sample comprised of 6916 patients with a primary diagnosis of OCD. The reported rates of behavioural addictions were as follows: 8.7% for problematic internet use, 6.8% for compulsive sexual behaviour disorder, 6.4% for compulsive buying, 4.1% for gambling disorder and 3.4% for internet gaming disorder.

Conclusions: Behavioural addictions should be better assessed for patients with OCD. The absence of diagnostic scales developed specifically for behavioural addictions and overlapping obsessive-compulsive phenomena such as compulsive checking of information on the internet may explain the relatively high rate of problematic internet use in this sample. The study encourages better efforts to assess and to conceptualise the relatedness of behavioural addictions to obsessive-compulsive ‘spectrum’ disorders.

Keywords: Diagnosisbehavioural addictionsobsessive-compulsive disorder