Association between Protestant religiosity and obsessive-compulsive symptoms and cognitions

Jonathan S Abramowitz, Brett J Deacon, Carol M Woods, David F Tolin
Depression and Anxiety 2004, 20 (2): 70-6
There is evidence that religion and other cultural influences are associated with the presentation of obsessive-compulsive symptoms, as well as beliefs and assumptions presumed to underlie the development and maintenance of these symptoms. We sought to further examine the relationship between Protestant religiosity and (1) various symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) (e.g., checking, washing) and (2) OCD-related cognitions. Using self-report questionnaires, we compared differences in these OCD-related phenomena between highly religious Protestants, moderately religious Protestants, and atheist/agnostic participants drawn from an undergraduate sample. Highly religious versus moderately religious Protestants reported greater obsessional symptoms, compulsive washing, and beliefs about the importance of thoughts. Additionally, the highly religious evinced more obsessional symptoms, compulsive washing, intolerance for uncertainty, need to control thoughts, beliefs about the importance of thoughts, and inflated responsibility, compared to atheists/agnostics. Results are discussed in terms of the relationship between religion and OCD symptoms in the context of the cognitive-behavioral conceptualization of OCD.

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