Obsessive-compulsive disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic: the relationship between symptoms and the use of various media
Hagen, Olivier van
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Abstract Background: Individuals suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) might experience an exacerbation of symptoms as the COVID-19 pandemic and governmental measures warrant behaviors resembling OCD symptoms. The fears invoked by frequent use of social media and high news consumption might contribute to elevated OCD symptomatology. Method: This study investigated whether a sample of Dutch OCD patients (n = 26) experienced an increase in symptoms during to the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, it investigated hypothesized positive correlations between OCD levels and variables such as time spent on social media and time spent watching regular news channels, whilst controlling for intolerance of uncertainty. Yale-Brown obsessive-compulsive scales were administered to measure OCD levels. Other scales concerned the intolerance of uncertainty scale short form and questions regarding news consumption. A semi-structured interview was conducted to support the statistical data. Results: Qualitative data showed some reports of elevated OCD symptoms, but statistical analyses yielded no general increase of OCD symptoms in the population of OCD patients. Time spent watching news via regular media as well as time spent using social media did not correlate with OCD levels. Conclusion: No proof was found for an exacerbation of OCD symptoms in the population of OCD patients due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When controlling for intolerance of uncertainty, time spent watching news via regular media and use of social media did not correlate with higher OCD levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study was characterized by large percentages of missing data. Hence, results should be interpreted cautiously.