Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Experiences of Individuals Suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: A Qualitative Study

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Experiences of Individuals Suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: A Qualitative Study

Article excerpt

The main purpose of this research was to participate in depth with four individuals who have been suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The study aimed to indulge in a participative inquiry into the life of these individuals in an attempt to look at their story, and their meaning about their illness. It was an attempt to give voice to these individuals to develop a deeper understanding so that therapeutic intervention is more individual specific and effective.

These individuals engaged with the researcher and explored various aspects of their life (occupation, interpersonal relationship, self- concept) so that they are able to reflect back on their lives and take appropriate measures to lead a meaningful existence.

Statement of the Problem

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a severe and debilitating anxiety disorder with a lifetime prevalence of 0.6% in Indian population (Khanna et. al., 1993). It is twice as prevalent as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and the fourth most common psychiatric disorder (Karno et al., 1988; Rasmussen & Eisen, 1990).

There have been very few studies to examine the extent to which the presence of persistent obsessions and compulsions impact on the quality of life (QOL) of persons with OCD. A review of literature in this area highlighted the profound personal, social, and financial costs associated with anxiety disorders, but there was a striking dearth of studies conducted on patients with OCD (Mendlowicz & Stein, 2000).

A review study done by Srivastava and Bhatia (2008) revealed OCD patient are less likely to find employment, have lower average income, poor academic performance and higher dependence on social security. In an Indian study by Gururaj et al. (2008) OCD patients were compared with patients with Schizophrenia in terms of family burden, quality of life and disability. Results indicated that patients with OCD were comparable with patients with schizophrenia and were associated with significant disability, poor quality of life and higher family burden.

In another study done by Stengler-Wenzke and colleagues (2007) the differential impact of obsessions and compulsions on quality of life (QOL) of patients with OCD was examined. 75 (32 male, 43 female) patients recruited from Department of Psychiatry, University of Leipzig. They were given Yale Brown obsessive compulsive scale, Beck Depression Inventory and WHOQOL-BREF. It was seen that compulsions had an impact on patients' QOL domain of "physical, psychological and environmental well-being" while obsessions did not have impact on QOL ratings. Comorbidity of depression was another predictor of poor QOL in OCD.

Subramanium and colleagues (2013) in a recent review article emphasize that suffering from OCD substantially impairs QOL across all domains compared to normative subjects. Patients with OCD scored better on QOL domains than patient with Major Depressive Disorders (MDD) but did not show much difference or scored worse than suffering from Schizophrenia. They have found a major gap in QOL research in OCD patients due to lack of suitable instruments measuring QOL. They have also highlighted the need for a multidimensional reliable and valid instrument for measuring QOL and a need for longitudinal studies to understand the temporal relationships.

There is a dearth of qualitative studies in understanding the impact of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder on the quality of life of individuals suffering from this disorder. There have been very few attempts to look into the subjective aspect of the illness. Moreover, in the Indian scenario an exploration in this area is still at its nascent stage.


This study intended to better understand significant issues that arise when a person develops this OCD, in order to prepare individual, their families and the psychotherapist to work with this population. The researcher specifically investigated the experiences of individual's suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and the impact of this illness on their life, and how they subjectively look at their illness in a hope of learning how to best improve clinical approaches to meeting the needs of this population. …

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