King's College London

Research portal

Temper outbursts in paediatric obsessive-compulsive disorder and their association with depressed mood and treatment outcome

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-322
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Issue number3
PublishedMar 2013


King's Authors


Background: Temper outbursts in youth with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are a common source of concern, but remain poorly understood. This study examined a set of hypotheses related to: (a) the prevalence of temper outbursts in paediatric OCD, (b) the associations of temper outbursts with OCD severity and depressive symptoms; and (c) the influence of temper outbursts on treatment response. Methods: The prevalence of temper outbursts was estimated in a specialist OCD clinical sample (n=387) using parent- and child-report. This was replicated in a community sample (n=18,415). Associations of temper outbursts with obsessive-compulsive symptoms and with depressed mood were examined using logistic regression models. The influence of temper outbursts on treatment response was examined in a subsample of 109 patients treated with cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) with or without medication. Results: Over a third of young people with OCD displayed temper outbursts, and rates were similar across the clinical and community samples. Temper outbursts were two to three times more common in youth with OCD than in healthy controls. However, OCD symptom severity was not a strong predictor of child- or parent-reported temper outbursts. Instead, both child- and parent- reported temper outbursts were significantly associated to depressive symptoms. CBT strongly reduced OCD and depressive symptoms, as well as the severity of temper outbursts. There was no significant difference in post-treatment OCD or depression scores between those with temper outbursts compared to those without. Conclusions: Temper outbursts are common in youth with OCD and are particularly related to depressed mood. They improve with CBT for OCD and do not seem to impede OCD treatment response.

Download statistics

No data available

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454