The association between parental bonding and obsessive compulsive disorder in offspring at high familial risk

Holly C. Wilcox, Marco Grados, Jack Samuels, Mark A. Riddle, Oscar J. Bienvenu, Anthony Pinto, Bernadette Cullen, Ying Wang, Yin Y. Shugart, Kung-Yee Liang, Gerald Nestadt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background: The aim of the current study is to estimate the association between parenting factors derived from the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI) and a lifetime DSM-IV diagnosis of OCD. Method: Data were from approximately 1200 adults from 465 families assessed as part of a large family and genetic study of OCD. The association of three parenting factors, for fathers and mothers, with offspring OCD status were examined; analyses were stratified by parental OCD status and family loading for OCD (multiplex versus sporadic). Results: Three factors were derived by principal components factor analysis of the PBI (maternal and paternal care, overprotection and control). Maternal overprotection was associated with OCD in offspring with familial OCD (familial cases) but only if neither parent was affected with OCD, which suggests independent but additive environmental and genetic risk (OR = 5.9, 95% CI 1.2, 29.9, p = 0.031). Paternal care was a protective factor in those not at high genetic risk (sporadic cases) (OR = 0.2, 95% CI 0.0, 0.8, p = 0.027). Maternal overprotection was also associated with offspring OCD in sporadic families (OR = 2.9, 95% CI 1.3, 6.6, p = 0.012). The finding that parental overprotection and care were not associated with offspring OCD when at least one parent had OCD addressed directly the hypothesis of maternal or paternal OCD adversely impacting parenting. Conclusions: This study provides evidence that aspects of parenting may contribute to the development of OCD among offspring. Prospective studies of children at risk for OCD are needed to explore the direction of causality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-39
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2008


  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Parent-child relations
  • Parenting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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