I do not know what else to do: caregivers’ perspective on reassurance seeking in OCD

Brynjar Halldorsson, Paul M. Salkovskis, Osamu Kobori, Rowena Pagdin

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Excessive Reassurance Seeking (ERS) is an under-researched and poorly understood behavior that resembles the compulsive behaviors that are typically seen in OCD. ERS can be complex, persistent, extensive, debilitating and may dominate people’s interactions. In addition to resembling compulsive checking in OCD it may also have the effect of transferring responsibility to others. Caregivers are frequently asked to take part in a range of rituals as part of the OCD sufferer’s problem, often seeing it as a way of supporting the sufferer. We are still in the early stages of understanding the factors that elicit and maintain these responses in caregivers. The present investigation considered the interpersonal components of ERS by applying an in-depth analysis using qualitative methods in the context of an interview of caregivers who provide reassurance to OCD sufferers. Ten interviews were conducted and analysed using thematic analysis. Seven overarching themes were identified as important in the experience of being asked for and providing reassurance. These concern factors such as how people seek reassurance, how they process it, why other people give it and so on. A particularly pervasive theme was caregivers’ experience of frustration in the face of ERS. Clinical implications of the findings are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-30
JournalJournal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders
Early online date10 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


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