The Child Behavior Checklist-Obsessive-compulsive subscale detects severe psychopathology and behavioral problems among school-aged children.


Objective: The aims of this study were (1) to assess obsessive-compulsive symptoms (OCS) dimensionally in a school-aged community sample and to correlate them with clinical and demographical variables; (2) to determine a subgroup with significant OCS (‘at-risk for OCD’) using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL-OCS) and (3) to compare it with the rest of the sample; (4) To review the CBCL-OCS subscale properties as a screening tool for pediatric OCD. Methods: Data from the Brazilian High Risk Cohort were analyzed. The presence and severity of OCS were assessed through the CBCL-OCS subscale. DSM-IV psychiatric diagnoses were obtained by the Developmental and Well-Being Assessment. Behavioral problems were assessed using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, the Youth Strengths Inventory, and the CBCL internalizing and externalizing behavior subscales. Results: A total of 2512 (mean age: 8.86 +/- 1.84 years; 55.0% male) children were included. Moderate correlations were found between OCS severity and functional impairment (r = 0.36, p < 0.001). Children with higher levels of OCS had higher rates of psychiatric comorbidity and behavioral problems (p < 0.001). A score of 5 or higher in the CBCL-OCS scale determined an 'at-risk for OCD' subgroup, comprising 9.7% of the sample (n = 244), with behavioral patterns and psychiatric comorbidities (e.g., tics [odds ratios, OR = 6.41, p < 0.001]), anxiety disorders grouped [OR = 3.68, p < 0.001] and depressive disorders [OR = 3.0, p < 0.001] very similar to those described in OCD. Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of the CBCL-OCS for OCD diagnosis were, respectively, 48%, 91.5%; 15.1%, and 98.2%. Conclusions: The dimensional approach suggests that the presence of OCS in children is associated with higher rates of comorbidity, behavioral problems, and impairment. The 'at-risk for OCD' group defined by the CBCL revealed a group of patients phenotypically similar to full blown OCD.