MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sandra M. Meier, PhD
The Lundbeck Foundation Initiative for Integrative Psychiatric Research, iPSYCH,
National Centre for Register-Based Research
Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?
Dr. Meier: People with an obsessive-compulsive disorder are at a 6 to 7 times higher risk of developing schizophrenia than people without an obsessive-compulsive disorder. If the parents are diagnosed with an obsessive-compulsive disorder, their offspring experience a 3 to 4 times higher chance to develop schizophrenia.
Dr. Meier: The findings fit with observations in clinical practice linking obsessive-compulsive disorder to schizophrenia.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Meier: Although only a small proportion of patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder will subsequently develop schizophrenia, clinicians should be more aware of the associations of obsessive-compulsive disorder with schizophrenia. Treating comorbid obsessive-compulsive disorder may prevent and improve the symptoms of schizophrenia. Even if this association is not causal—and instead an epiphenomenon due to genetics or environmental factors—psychiatric patients with comorbid diseases would most likely still benefit through greater quality of life and improved survival.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Meier: Our findings indicate that obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia might share etiologic risk factors. Future research is needed to disentangle which genetic and environmental risk factors are truly common to both disorders.
Meier SM, Petersen L, Pedersen MG, et al. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder as a Risk Factor for Schizophrenia: A Nationwide Study. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online September 03, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.1011.