The Relative Contribution of a Typological versus a Dimensional Approach for Understanding Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms in Adolescents

Elien De Caluwe*, Lize Verbeke, Barbara De Clercq

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In order to better understand the heterogeneous nature of Obsessive-Compulsive (OC) symptoms, a typological or a dimensional approach can be used to structure the variety of symptoms into a set of core components. However, there is still no consensus on which approach is the most robust to predict several OC-related criterion measures, especially in adolescents. From this perspective, the current study empirically identified OC classes (i.e., types), and explored whether types or dimensions are the strongest predictors of adolescent OC-related criterion variables. To identify OC classes, we conducted latent class analysis on the Youth Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms Scale (YOCSS; De Caluw, and De Clercq 2014) that was completed by 682 community and referred adolescents (71.4 % girls, 12-18 years old, mean age = 15.67, SD = 1.53), and we also computed OC dimension scores as outlined in De Caluw, and De Clercq (2014). We subsequently used hierarchical regression analysis to examine the incremental validity of the OC classes beyond the OC domains, and vice versa, in predicting several OC-related criterion variables that were completed by the adolescents or their mothers (N = 325). The results indicated that the two identified OC classes only differed quantitatively but not qualitatively, hence reflecting severity classes, and also showed that OC domains have significant effects beyond the effects of the OC classes, whereas the reverse did not hold. The dimensional approach appears to have the strongest predictive value for OC symptomatology in adolescents, leading to clinical implications for conceptualization and assessment of obsessive and compulsive problems in younger age groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-484
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Obsessive-compulsive symptoms
  • Latent class analysis
  • Adolescents
  • Dimensional
  • Typological
  • DSM-V


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