Concise Questionnaire Found Consistent, Reliable at Monitoring OCD

A person with OCD washing their hands
A person with OCD washing their hands
The Obsessive Beliefs Questionnaire-9 may also potentially be used outside of intensive care settings, such as in longitudinal research.

Investigators were able to verify an abbreviated version of the 44-question Obsessive Beliefs Questionnaire, a psychometric tool used to monitor pathologic severity in individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder, according to research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

The study was conducted over 6 weeks as part of an intensive residential treatment program with 311 participants at index. As patients were discharged at various times, only 144 were eligible for inclusion in the final analysis. 

Patients who were discharged before the study’s end exhibited somewhat less severe symptoms but were otherwise characteristically similar to those who remained in the program for the study’s duration.

As participants were inpatients receiving intensive care, both symptom severity and the rate of comorbidity were above average. The mean age of participants was 30 years with symptom onset at age 16 years. The average self-reported Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale score was 25.26 points out of a possible 40. Comorbid Axis I diagnoses were present in 85% of participants, most commonly major depressive disorder and social anxiety disorder.

Similar to the full-length version of the survey, the abbreviated questionnaire comprised 9 questions that evaluated 3 subscales: perfectionism and intolerance for uncertainty, overestimation of threats, and importance of and control over one’s thoughts. Patients responded to statements such as, “If I can’t do something perfectly, I shouldn’t do it at all” and “Having a bad thought is morally no different from doing a bad deed.” Whereas the 44-question version takes approximately 20 minutes, the 9-question version was administered “within minutes.”

Compared with the Obsessive Beliefs Questionnaire-44, the 9-question version showed good internal consistency and test-retest reliability across weeks, both overall and in its individual subscales. It also appeared treatment sensitive, with scores improving as treatment continued.

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As the questionnaire was used in a treatment-seeking population with particularly severe cases of obsessive-compulsive disorder, its comparability to the 44-question version might not generalize to other groups or settings. The authors also emphasized the importance of integrating adaptive testing strategies, which have been demonstrated to improve measurement quality, when monitoring patients.

Nonetheless, the authors expressed that the Obsessive Beliefs Questionnaire-9 “may potentially be used outside of intensive care settings, such as in longitudinal research, to easily and rapidly increase our understanding of cognitive phenomena and other maintaining factors in OCD.”


Gagné J-P, Van Kirk N, Hernandez-Vallant A, et al. Validating an abbreviated version of the Obsessive Beliefs Questionnaire [published online April 26, 2018]. J Clin Psychol. doi:10.1002/jclp.22629