Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 74 Issue 4 (December 2001), Pages 419-553

OCD patients and non‐patient groups reporting obsessions and compulsions: Phenomenology, help‐seeking, and access to treatment (pages 431-449)

This article offers a preliminary examination of factors that may be important to seeking help and receiving treatment for obsessive‐compulsive symptoms. Community studies typically reveal individuals who display significant obsessive‐compulsive symptomatology. Such individuals are often used in analogue research that attempts to understand various symptom dimensions and associated characteristics relevant to clinical obsessional states. This article questions why, if these non‐patient groups are sufficiently similar to patients in terms of phenomenology, there should exist a disparity in treatment status. This question is addressed in the following way: first, obsessive‐compulsive symptoms and associated features that may be central to help‐seeking are considered in both patient and non‐patient groups. A central argument in this part of the article is that cross‐study phenomenological comparisons are hindered by diversity in research selection criteria. Secondly, general factors that may be considered important to help‐seeking for psychological distress are considered, as too are those factors that may be applied to the consideration of help‐seeking for obsessive‐compulsive problems specifically. Finally, the implications of these issues in the literature for research and clinical practice are considered.

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