Correlates of Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms Among Black Caribbean Americans

M. Williams, R. Taylor, J. George, V. Schlaudt, M. Ifatunji and L. Chatters


Despite the rapid growth of the Black Caribbean population in the United States, we know little about the presentation and prevalence of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) among these groups. This study examines the demographic correlates and the effect of racial discrimination on OCD symptoms among a nationally-representative sample of Black Caribbean and African American adults (n = 5191). Drawing on the Composite International Diagnostic Interview Short Form (CIDI-SF) for OCD, we examine two types of obsessions (harm and contamination) and four types of compulsions (repeating, washing, ordering, and counting). There we no significant differences between Black Caribbeans and African Americans in obsessions and compulsions. Analysis among Black Caribbeans found that compared with Jamaican and Trinidadian Americans, Haitian American individuals reported the fewest number of obsessions and compulsions. We show that Black Caribbean Americans with lower income, lower self-rated physical and mental health, and more experiences with racial discrimination report higher levels of OCD. More specifically, racial discrimination was associated with contamination and harm obsessions, as well as washing and repeating compulsions. Our findings highlight the need to consider specific domains of OCD relative to Black Caribbeans, and the relationship between social and demographic variables on symptomology.


Reference: International Journal of Mental Health (2021)