How do daily routines and situational factors affect the severity of obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Mary Ellen E. Brierley, Lucy Albertella, Maria Conceição do Rosário, Ygor A. Ferrão, Euripedes C. Miguel, Leonardo F. Fontenelle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Daily routine and situations may worsen, stabilise, or improve symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). We investigated which factors OCD patients perceived to be related to the worsening of their OCD symptoms and their relationship to patients’ OCD symptom severity. Methods: Seven-hundred and forty-two OCD patients completed the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale as a measure of OCD symptom severity and the Yale OCD Natural History Questionnaire assessing perception of impact of environmental and routine factors on symptoms. We conducted univariate exploratory analyses and a multivariate regression. Results: Reporting of worsening OCD symptoms when having a meal (B = 0.093, p = 0.008), during hot weather (B = 0.153, p < 0.001) and while watching television (B = 0.080, p = 0.039) was associated with more severe OCD symptoms. Conclusion: People with more severe OCD report symptom worsening while having a meal, when exposed to higher temperatures, and whilst watching television. While our study may be limited by its cross-sectional design (limiting inferences of causality) and analysis of broad (rather than specific) OCD symptoms, our findings point to a potential common biological abnormality that is disturbed by certain events in OCD. We present clinical implications of our findings and areas for further exploration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-399
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Clinical symptoms
  • Environmental factors
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Thermal stress

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