How Does the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale Rate OCD Severity?


Quick Answer

The Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale rates obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, symptoms on a scale of 0, or no symptoms, to 4, extreme symptoms, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The scale evaluates 10 independent factors, yielding a total score ranging between 0 and 40. Unlike rating systems that preceded it, Yale-Brown rates symptoms irrespective of the type of obsessions or compulsions.

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The Yale-Brown scale examines such factors as the amount of time a patient spends thinking about a subject, the amount of distress or impairment the obsession wrecks upon the patient’s life and the amount of control or lack thereof the patient has over the impulses. It analyzes the answers to the same questions with regard to compulsions. The Yale-Brown scale addresses the need to focus on the day-to-day disruptiveness of the OCD symptoms, regardless of type, rather than on attempting to classify the different types of symptoms and assigning symptom-specific severity to each type, explains the National Institute of Mental Health. As such, the scale has come to be the gold standard measure of OCD symptom severity. Due to the scale’s effectiveness in diagnosing OCD severity, a self-rated version has emerged for the prospective patient’s personal use. Clinical studies have found the self-rated and professionally administered versions to correlate very well.

The Y-BOCS’s chief designer, Dr. Wayne K. Goodman, and his colleagues developed an improved version, known as Y-BOCS II. This new version incorporates avoidance coping symptoms into its examination, which in turn has modified the scale’s scoring and framework and has made the scale significantly more accurate in diagnosing OCD symptoms, reports the National Institute of Mental Health.

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