The effect of trauma on the severity of obsessive-compulsive spectrum symptoms: A meta-analysis

Michelle L. Miller, Rebecca L. Brock

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


It is important to consider trauma-related sequelae in the etiology and maintenance of psychopathology, namely understudied disorders such as those belonging to the Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum (OCS). This meta-analysis examined the association between past trauma exposure and current severity of OCS disorder symptoms. A systematic literature search was conducted with 24 (N = 4557) articles meeting inclusion criteria. A significant overall effect size was obtained (r = 0.20), indicating that exposure to past trauma is associated with a higher severity of OCS symptoms, with a stronger association for females (β = 0.01, p < .001) but not varying as a function of relationship status. Four types of interpersonal trauma (violence, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect) were associated with OCS symptom severity (r = 0.19 −0.24) and past trauma was significantly associated with more severe compulsions (r = 0.17), but not obsessions. Results suggest an important link between multiple types of past trauma exposure and OCS symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-44
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Anxiety disorders
  • Meta-analysis
  • Obsessive-compulsive spectrum
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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