Accuracy of retrospective memory and covariation estimation in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder

  • Gloster A
  • Richard D
  • Himle J
 et al. 
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Assessment methods relying on biased or inaccurate retrospective recall may distort knowledge about the nature of disorders and lead to faulty clinical inferences. Despite concerns about the accuracy of retrospective recall in general and in particular with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) patients, the accuracy of retrospective recall for one's own symptoms assessed in vivo is unknown in this population. This study used a prospective ecological momentary assessment (EMA) methodology to create a criterion against which to assess recall accuracy in OCD patients. Although results indicated that patients' retrospective recall of OCD symptoms was fairly accurate, they consistently overestimated the magnitude of OCD symptom covariation with non-OCD facets (e.g., sleep duration, contemporaneous stress level, etc.). Findings suggest that even when recall of OCD symptoms is accurate, patients may be inaccurate in estimating symptom covariation. The findings have implications for the research, case conceptualization, and assessment of OCD, and may extend to other disorders. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Covariation estimation
  • Ecological momentary assessment (EMA)
  • Memory bias
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Retrospective recall

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