Doctorate in Clinical Psychology: Main Research Portfolio
: 1) Critical Review of the Literature: Risk and maintenance factors for disordered eating in children and young people with Type 1 Diabetes: a systematic review; 2) Service Improvement Project: Exploring the service for fear of hypoglaemia in paediatric diabetes: development of service recognition; 3) Main Research Project: Mental contamination in children and young people: the relationship to OCD and betrayal.

  • Katie Wilkinson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Aims: Mental contamination (MC) (feelings of dirtiness in the absence of a physical contaminant) has been associated with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in the adult population and its development has been linked to experiences of betrayal. However, no research has looked at the occurrence of MC in children and young people (CYP). Therefore this research aimed to examine if clinical levels of MC are experienced by CYP, examine whether there are differences in levels of MC in CYP with clinical OCD symptoms than CYP with other mental health difficulties or no mental health difficulties. This research also aimed to determine whether there is an association between CYP’s perceptions of betrayal and MC. Method: Participants (n=114) aged 12-17 completed questionnaires to assess their current mental health, MC and their perceptions of betrayal. Descriptive statistics were used to determine clinical levels of MC within the sample. Participants were split into groups according to self-report of mental health diagnosis; OCD group (n=15), other mental health difficulties (n=21) and non-clinical (n=65). A Kruskil-Wallis test was used to examine between-group differences in MC scores. Linear regression modelling using data from all participants examined the association between OCD symptoms and MC and the association between perceptions of betrayal and MC. Results: 15.79% of participants experienced clinical levels of MC. Participants in the OCD group had higher scores of MC (M=40.53, 95% CI: 29.14 to 51.93) than those in the other groups (other mental health: M=16.33, 95% CI: 9.50 to 23.16; Non-clinical M=9.92, 95% CI: 6.94 to 12.91) (H(2)=27.55, p<0.001). There was an association found between OCD symptoms and MC (b=2.713 (95% CI: 2.70 to 3.39) p=0.001) and between participants perceptions of betrayal and MC (b=0.209 (95% CI: 0.15 to 0.27) p=0.001). Conclusions: MC is a difficulty experienced by CYP. In-line with the adult population MC appears to be associated to OCD symptoms and maladaptive perceptions of betrayal in this age group. Clinical implications and future research are discussed.
Date of Award16 Sept 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorCara Davis (Supervisor), Elizabeth Marks (Supervisor), Gemma Taylor (Supervisor) & Maria Loades (Supervisor)

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