To seek advice or not to seek advice about the problem: the help-seeking dilemma for obsessive-compulsive disorder
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- Belloch, A., del Valle, G., Morillo, C. et al. Soc Psychiat Epidemiol (2009) 44: 257. doi:10.1007/s00127-008-0423-0
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Although obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is associated with considerable distress, it has been reported that OCD patients delay considerably in seeking treatment for their problem. The present study aimed to explore some variables hypothetically involved in the help-seeking process among OCD patients.
Twenty-six OCD patients without comorbid conditions completed the Interview of Help-Seeking, specifically designed for this study, which assesses to what extent patients delay seeking treatment for their problem, and three group of variables: factors influencing the recognition of the problem, reasons for delaying the treatment-seeking, and reasons for finally seeking treatment. Participants also completed OCD measures, as well as a questionnaire on thought control strategies.
The mean length of delay in seeking treatment was 39.38 (SD = 50.95) months, and a great variety of reasons for delaying were observed. The OCD patients who delayed consultation longer, in comparison with patients who delayed less time, used fever social control strategies, and they were less aware of the interference and behavioral changes associated with the problem.
To gain more insight about the problem and to experience greater interference from the symptoms were determinants in the active search for help. Conversely, the main barriers to the help-seeking were the fears of stigma and the meaning of the thought contents. Additionally, the fact that patients are willing to disclose their obsessions to other people may favor an adequate representation of the problem and the need to seek mental health treatment.