Kids with OCD bullied more than others, study shows
| August 2006|
By April Frawley Birdwell
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Children with obsessive-compulsive disorder are three times more likely to be bullied than other children, and the name-slinging could cause symptoms of OCD to worsen, University of Florida researchers have found.
"One of the things we have noticed working with many kids with OCD is that peer relations are extremely impaired," said Eric Storch, Ph.D, a UF assistant professor of psychiatry and pediatrics and lead author of the study. "Kids target kids who are different. Kids with OCD sometimes exhibit behaviors that peers simply don't understand."
More than one-quarter of the children with OCD who researchers studied reported chronic bullying as a problem, according to findings described in the September issue of the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.
By comparison, only 9 percent of kids in the two other groups researchers studied - healthy kids without medical or mental conditions and children with type 1 diabetes - reported serious problems with bullies.
Nearly all children are bullied at least once in their lives. But chronic bullying equates to about one taunt per day, ranging from kicking or hitting to name-calling or excluding children from activities in school.
"The kids with OCD are really experiencing higher rates of peer problems than other kids," Storch said. "We're not saying one causes the other, but there is a positive relationship between (OCD and bullying)."
About one in 100 children struggle with OCD, an anxiety disorder that leads people to engage in rituals such as hand washing to drive away obsessive thoughts about germs or other worries. Rituals often become so involved that they interfere with a person's ability to function, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
"Their day becomes filled with repeating behaviors," Storch said. "For a lot of kids, peers don't understand what is going on. They are isolated. They are ostracized because it doesn't make sense why they are washing their hands. Why they keep repeating questions."
The researchers also found links between bullying and other problems, namely loneliness and depression, in children with OCD, Storch said. Kids were also apt to internalize bullies' negative comments, telling themselves, "No one will ever love me," or "Maybe I am a loser," Storch said.
Having OCD and conditions such as depression is linked to worsening obsessive-compulsive symptoms, potentially explaining why researchers also found a link between bullying and more serious symptoms.
"It could be that the peers are attacking because they are doing things that are so different," he said. "Or it might be that bullying is in some way contributing to OCD."
Compulsive behaviors such as repeating questions, recounting and rechecking information can draw attention to kids with OCD in school, as can vocal or physical tics, common among children with OCD, said Phoebe Moore, Ph.D., an assistant clinical professor of child psychiatry at Duke University.
"That kind of behavior can draw fire," Moore said. "I definitely see that clinically."
Treating OCD either with approved drugs or behavior modification techniques will help patients control their obsessions and compulsions, Storch said. But he emphasizes that doctors need to examine the whole child and not just treat OCD symptoms.
"When one focuses solely on the obsessions and compulsions you experience a resolution of those problems, but problems like depression or anxiety and loneliness may still exist," he said. "If you address the OCD without addressing the peer problems, that depression and loneliness may not go away."
Storch suggests parents help children learn how to handle aggressive peers, either at home or by finding a counselor who can help them develop social skills. Parents should also take their concerns to their child's school if teachers or administrators are not stopping the bullying before it becomes a problem.
"Bullying is one of the largest challenges kids, with OCD and in general, have to face," he said. "One of the main clinical implications is considering the child as an entire person, one who has OCD but who also has other impairments."
Former Ohio State dean to lead College of Veterinary Medicine
By Anney Doucette
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Glen F. Hoffsis, D.V.M., has been named dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida, UF administrators announced today. He will talk about his plans for the college with faculty and staff at noon today in Lecture Hall A of the college's Veterinary Academic Building.
Recognized for leading the College of Veterinary Medicine at The Ohio State University to national prominence, Hoffsis was chosen after a nationwide search, according to Douglas Barrett, M.D., senior vice president for health affairs, and Jimmy Cheek, Ph.D, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.
"During his tenure as dean at Ohio State University, Dr. Hoffsis oversaw a remarkable expansion in the college's research and academic output, expanded its clinical teaching hospital and moved the college forward in peer rankings to become one of the best in the country," Barrett said. "He knows how to build and grow a college, and he's extraordinarily enthusiastic about this opportunity."
Hoffsis will officially begin his new job Oct. 1, when he will become the college's fifth permanent dean.
"Dr. Hoffsis brings an incredible amount of experience and commitment to this position," said Jimmy Cheek, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. "He's done everything from researching cattle diseases and directing a veterinary teaching hospital to significantly expanding development efforts and leading the veterinary services division of a major corporation."
After a long career at OSU culminating with 11 years as dean, Hoffsis joined Iams, a Procter & Gamble company, as associate director of veterinary services. As such, he has led a group that implements academic programs in colleges of veterinary medicine in the United States and overseas.
"At this point, I'm looking forward to combining my experience in academia with my new perspectives gained in the corporate world and putting them to good use at the University of Florida," Hoffsis said. "I see the UF veterinary college as a top-ranked college with a bright future."
Hoffsis noted Florida's strong agricultural, equine and small animal industry constituencies are valuable resources for UF's veterinary college and would continue to be assets in the future.
"I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the fine College of Veterinary Medicine at UF to a new level of excellence," he said.
The OSU College of Veterinary Medicine progressed from a limited accreditation status with the American Veterinary Medical Association during Hoffsis' term as dean to a ranking of sixth among veterinary medical schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
In the meantime, sponsored research at the college doubled, the budget nearly tripled and a major fundraising effort resulted in the acquisition of nine new endowed chairs and professorships, including the endowed deanship. Three new buildings were added at the college.
Hoffsis is an established and visible leader among veterinary medical school deans, having served as a former president of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, UF administrators said. Furthermore, he has also been president of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners and chairman of the Food and Drug Administration's veterinary medicine advisory committee.
Hoffsis received his veterinary medical degree from Ohio State in 1966 and completed an internship in large animal medicine at Colorado State University in 1967. He is a board-certified veterinary internist. He replaces former dean Joseph DiPietro, D.V.M., who served nine years in the job and left in February to become vice president for agriculture at the University of Tennessee.