Category: Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders

Symposium

Parental Risk Factors in the Development of Childhood Obsessive Beliefs and Interpretation Biases

Friday, November 17
1:45 PM - 3:15 PM
Location: Sapphire Ballroom K & L, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) | Cognitive Biases / Distortions | Risk / Vulnerability Factors
Presentation Type: Symposium

Given that cognitive biases - obsessive beliefs and maladaptive interpretations - are psychological diatheses for OCD, better understanding the risk factors associated with their generational transmission can inform prevention programs for this debilitating condition.


Twenty-seven parents with OC symptoms and their 46 children between the ages of 8-18 participated in this three phase study: (1) diagnostic assessment, (2) online questionnaires assessing parent risk factors and childhood obsessive beliefs (OBQ-CV), and (3) in vivo interpretation paradigm in which children purposely thought about a negative outcome occurring (friend getting hurt). They then rated the likelihood of the outcome and moral wrongness associated with this thought.  


Given the non-independence of observations (i.e., children nested within families), we conducted mixed-effects linear regression models. For the five outcomes (three subscales of the OBQ-CV and two interpretation ratings), univariate models identified meaningful predictors, and the False Discovery Rate (FDR) controlled for type I error. Following adjustment, significant variables were included in multivariate mixed-effects models. Analyses indicated that (1) parental psychological control (PPC) predicted children’s responsibility/threat (RT) beliefs with parental stress as a moderator (R2 = 40%), (2) PPC and parental stress uniquely predicted children’s perfectionism/certainty beliefs (R2 = 20%), and (3) parents’ religiosity predicted children’s beliefs regarding the importance of, and need to control, thoughts (R2 = 20%). For interpretation biases, only parental beliefs regarding RT predicted children’s likelihood ratings (R2 = 30%). No factors predicted moral wrongness ratings.


Results suggest that OC-related cognitive biases are not directly transmitted. Rather, parents’ stress, religiosity, and attempts to control children’s internal experiences explain children’s biased information processing. Results will be discussed through the lens of developmental psychopathology and how data can inform individualized prevention programs that alter the trajectory of at-risk youth. Limitations and future directions will be addressed.

Noah C. Berman

Assistant Professor
Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School

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