OCD Research Projects

Current OCD Research Projects

About Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a highly disabling and distressing disorder, which has made it one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, OCD afflicts 2.2 million American adults. OCD is equally common among men and women, causing significant and pervasive impairment in multiple domains, including home life, work, and relationships. OCD-related costs have previously been estimated at $8 billion dollars annually in the US.

People with OCD experience multiple barriers to treatment, including difficulty locating affordable help, cultural stigma, and lack of knowledge about treatment options. Minorities with OCD are absent from speciality treatment centers and research studies. The CMHD is dedicated to conducting research to address these problems and the resulting mental health disparity.

OCD & Relationships: Married to OCD Distressed Couple

We are currently studying OCD and marital satisfaction. Little research has focused on how OCD affects those around the individual with the diagnosis, especially with their spouses. We surveyed people on how satisfied they are in their marriages to determine the impact of the disorder on marital satisfaction. The information that is collected for this study may help clinicians better understand how to adjust their therapeutic approach to help married couples in distress because of problems associated with OCD. Data analysis for this project is underway.

Project Team: Terence Ching, Ghazel Tellawi, Jenifer Viscusi

Sexual Orientation Obsessions in OCD

Dr. Williams recently conducted an internet study on profiles of distress in people with sexual orientation obsessions in OCD. With the help of colleagues at the University of Houston Clear Lake and Nova Southeast, this data has been analysed and is being used to pilot a self-report measure to help clinicians distinguish between OCD symptoms and people with other types of sexual orientation concerns. Data collection for this project is completed and analyses are underway.

Project Team: Terence Ching, Ghazel Tellawi, Joe Slimowicz, Jenifer Viscusi

Recent Publications

Williams, M. T., & Ching, T. H. W. (2016). Transgender anxiety, cultural issues, and cannabis in obsessive-compulsive disorder. AACE Clinical Case Reports, 2(3), e276-e277. doi: 10.4158/ep161356.co

OCD and African Americans

OCD afflicts an estimated 1.6% of the American population, and the National Survey of American Life (NSAL) found that Black Americans experience OCD at rates equivalent to the general population, however very few receive treatment, indicating a substantial health disparity. Dr. Monnica Williams completed a project at the University of Pennsylvania where she collected data from a sample of 75 African Americans with a lifetime diagnosis of OCD. Dr. Williams and students are completing papers on the validation of popular measures of OCD in African Americans (SCID, DS-R) and psychiatric comorbidity in this population, as well as family factors in the development of OCD. Learn more about the findings of the African Americans with OCD Project.

Recent Papers

Williams, M. T., & Jahn, M. E. (2017). Obsessive-compulsive disorder in African American children and adolescents: Risks, resiliency, and barriers to treatment. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 83(3), 291-303. doi: 10.1037/ort0000188

Williams, M. T., Debreaux, M., & Jahn, M. (2016). African Americans with obsessive-compulsive disorder: An update. Current Psychiatry Reviews, 12(2), 109-114. doi: 10.2174/1573400512666160602124146

aa ocd


The CMHD is working with collaborators at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor on quality of life issues in African Americans with OCD. We are examining the impact of OCD in African Americans with regards to relationships and help-seeking behaviors, as well as other areas such as symptom presentation, educational attainment, and incarceration. Participants in this study included 3,570 African Americans and 891 Non-Hispanic whites from the National Survey of American Life (NSAL) epidemiological study. Measures used included a structured psychiatric interview to assess both 12-month and lifetime DSM-IV disorders and various quality of life variables. Results indicate that different anxiety disorders in African Americans are uniquely associated with different amounts of perceived family closeness, reduced educational attainment, and decreased treatment-seeking when compared with African Americans and European Americans with no disorders.

Recent Papers

Himle, J. A., Taylor, R. J., Nguyen, A. W., Williams, M. T., Lincoln, K. D., Taylor, H. O., & Chatters, L. M. (2017). Family and friendship networks and obsessive-compulsive disorder among African Americans and Black Caribbeans. The Behavior Therapist, 40(3), 99-105.