Genetic and environmental contributions to the child behavior checklist obsessive-compulsive scale: A cross-cultural twin study

James J. Hudziak, C. E.M. Van Beijsterveldt, Robert R. Althoff, Catherine Stanger, David C. Rettew, Elliot C. Nelson, Richard D. Todd, Meike Bartels, Dorret I. Boomsma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Context: We have reported elsewhere on the development of an 8-item Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (OCS) contained in the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) to identify children who meet criteria for DSM-IV obsessive-compulsive disorder. Twin studies of obsessive-compulsive disorder have indicated a significant genetic component to its expression. Objective: To determine the relative contributions of genetic and environmental influences on childhood obsessive-compulsive behavior using the CBCL OCS in twin samples. Design: The CBCL data were received by survey of twins in the Netherlands Twin Registry (NTR) and the Missouri Twin Study (USA/MOTWIN). Setting: General community twin samples. Participants: Participants were 4246 twin pairs aged 7 years, 2841 aged 10 years, and 1562 aged 12 years (who also participated in the study at 7 and 10 years of age) from the NTR and 1461 mixed-age twin pairs (average age, approximately 9 years) from the USA/MOTWIN. Main Outcome Measures: Model fitting to test for genetic and environmental influences, sex differences, and sibling interaction/rater contrast effects on the CBCL OCS. Results: In each case, the best-fitting model was one that indicated significant additive genetic influences (range, 45%-58%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 45%-61%), and unique environmental influences (range, 42%-55%; 95% CI, 39%-55%), with shared environmental influences in the NTR sample aged 12 years (16%). Sex differences were seen in the mixed-age USA/MOTWIN model, but not in the NTR samples. No evidence of dominance, sibling interaction, or rater-contrast effects was seen. These data were relatively consistent across age and cultures. Conclusions: The CBCL OCS is influenced by genetic factors (approximately 55%) and unique environmental factors (approximately 45%) in the younger sample, with common environmental influences only at 12 years of age. These effects do not vary with differences in sex or sibling interaction/rater contrast effects. Our data reveal higher genetic influences for obsessive-compulsive behavior and do not demonstrate genetic differences across sex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)608-616
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of General Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2004


Dive into the research topics of 'Genetic and environmental contributions to the child behavior checklist obsessive-compulsive scale: A cross-cultural twin study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this