Publications

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    ABSTRACT: Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) are a type of video game that is considered to have particular potential to be associated with life interference and psychopathology when played frequently and intensively. This study sought to compare players of MMORPGs with players of other types of video game in terms of problematic use, life interference, and levels of psychopathology. An international sample of 1,945 video game players completed a series of questionnaires online. While MMORPG players reported increased rates of problematic use and life interference compared with non-MMORPG players, there were no differences in levels of psychopathology. Differences between MMORPG players and non-MMORPG players appeared to be associated with the increased amounts of time that MMORPG players played for: The amount of time spent playing appeared to mediate the relationships between type of game played and each of the problematic use and life interference variables. The implications of these findings are discussed.
    Australian Journal of Psychology 08/2014; · 1.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives:This study aims to examine the characteristics of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) associated with high levels of schizotypy.Methods:Using the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire (SPQ) with 177 individuals with OCD, patients with OCD and high levels of schizotypy (OCD-HS) were compared to patients with OCD and low levels of schizotypy (OCD-LS) on a range of clinical characteristics. Self-report and clinician-administered instruments were used. Results were adjusted for the severity of OCD symptoms, age, marital status and comorbidity using logistic regression.Results:Patients with OCD-HS were younger and less likely to have been married. OCD-HS was associated with higher rates of symmetry/order obsessions, ordering/arranging compulsions, checking compulsions, co-occurring major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorders and greater general psychopathology. Previously reported associations, such as higher total scores on the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) were not significant when adjusted for differences in demographic variables and comorbidity.Conclusions:Patients with OCD-HS were associated with specific OCD symptoms and comorbid conditions and may warrant a specific treatment approach.
    Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 04/2014; · 3.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Several studies have linked obsessive-compulsive symptoms to specific obsessive-compulsive cognitions, however methodologies have varied, and no study has determined obsessive-compulsive symptoms using the most widely used clinician rating scale, the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS). Considering that almost all studies that used factor analysis to ascertain OCD symptom dimensions were based on the Y-BOCS and that self-report instruments assessing obsessive-compulsive symptoms correlate poorly with the Y-BOCS, there is a need to use the Y-BOCS to examine the relationship between obsessive-compulsive cognitions and obsessive-compulsive symptom dimensions. This study examined the relationship between five Y-BOCS-derived obsessive-compulsive symptom dimensions and the three obsessive-compulsive cognitive domains identified by the obsessive-beliefs questionnaire (OBQ). The symmetry/ordering symptom dimension was associated with increased perfectionism/intolerance of uncertainty, the unacceptable/taboo thoughts symptom dimension was associated with increased importance/control of thoughts and the doubt/checking symptom dimension was associated with increased responsibility/threat estimation. There was no statistical evidence of an association between any OBQ belief sub-scale and the hoarding symptom dimension nor the contamination/cleaning symptom dimension. The findings encourage symptom-based approaches to cognitive-behavioural therapy for some OCD symptoms and call for further research on cognitions associated with contamination/cleaning symptoms and hoarding.
    Psychiatric Quarterly 10/2013; · 1.26 Impact Factor
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    Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 10/2013; 47(10):954-5. · 3.77 Impact Factor
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    David Berle, Michelle L Moulds
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    ABSTRACT: Intrusion-based reasoning refers to the tendency to form interpretations about oneself or a situation based on the occurrence of a negative intrusive autobiographical memory. Intrusion-based reasoning characterises post-traumatic stress disorder, but has not yet been investigated in depression. We report two studies that aimed to investigate this. In Study 1 both high (n = 42) and low (n = 28) dysphoric participants demonstrated intrusion-based reasoning. High-dysphoric individuals engaged in self-referent intrusion-based reasoning to a greater extent than did low-dysphoric participants. In Study 2 there were no significant differences in intrusion-based reasoning between currently depressed (n = 27) and non-depressed (n = 51) participants, and intrusion-based reasoning did not predict depressive symptoms at 6-month follow-up. Interestingly, previously (n = 26) but not currently (n = 27) depressed participants engaged in intrusion-based reasoning to a greater extent than never-depressed participants (n = 25), indicating the possibility that intrusion-based reasoning may serve as a "scar" from previous episodes. The implications of these findings are discussed.
    Memory 09/2013; · 2.09 Impact Factor
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    David Berle, Michelle L Moulds
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive models of depression emphasize how distorted thoughts and interpretations contribute to low mood. Emotional reasoning is considered to be one such interpretative style. We used an experimental procedure to determine whether elevated levels of emotional reasoning characterize depression. Participants who were currently experiencing a major depressive episode (n = 27) were compared with those who were non-depressed (n = 25 who had never been depressed and n = 26 previously but not currently depressed) on an emotional reasoning task. Although there were some trends for depressed participants to show greater levels of emotional reasoning relative to non-depressed participants, none of these differences attained significance. Interestingly, previously depressed participants engaged in more non-self-referent emotional reasoning than never-depressed participants. Emotional reasoning does not appear to characterize mild to moderate levels of depression. The lack of significant differences in emotional reasoning between currently depressed and non-depressed participants may have been a consequence of the fact that participants in our currently depressed group were, for the most part, only mildly depressed. Non-self-referent emotional reasoning may nevertheless be a risk factor for subsequent depressive episodes, or else serve as a 'cognitive scar' from previous episodes. Clinical Implications In contrast with the predictions of cognitive models of depression, emotional reasoning tendencies may not be especially prominent in currently depressed individuals. Depressed individuals vary greatly in the degree to which they engage in emotional reasoning. Individuals with remitted depression may show elevated of levels non-self-referent emotional reasoning compared with those who have never had a depressive episode, that is, rely on their emotions when forming interpretations about situations. Limitations Our findings require replication using alternative indices of emotional reasoning. Our currently depressed individuals were only mildly clinically depressed precluding conclusions about individuals with more severe levels of depression.
    British Journal of Clinical Psychology 09/2013; 52(3):316-29. · 1.90 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Attempts to explain the phenotypic heterogeneity of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have resulted in three to six OCD symptom dimensions. This study aimed to clarify the nature of these symptom dimensions using a self-report instrument (Vancouver Obsessional Compulsive Inventory [VOCI]) in addition to the clinician-rated Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale-Symptom Checklist (YBOCS-SC). Participants (N = 154) were recruited to a study designed to specifically assess OCD symptom dimensions. Symptoms assessed via the YBOCS-SC and the VOCI were subjected to principal components analysis (PCA). Linear regression was used to assess therelationship between the YBOCS-SC-derived symptom dimensions and the VOCI symptom subscales. PCA of the YBOCS-SC and the VOCI revealed five OCD symptom dimensions that explained 68% and 60% of the variance, respectively. The results also supported a distinction between the doubt/checking symptom dimension and the unacceptable/taboo thoughts dimension that includes mental rituals. The YBOCS-SC-derived symptom components were predicted by their respective VOCI symptom subscale scores.
    The Journal of nervous and mental disease 05/2013; · 1.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: In the quest to unravel the heterogeneity of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), an increasing number of factor analytic studies are recognising unacceptable/taboo thoughts as one of the symptom dimensions of OCD. AIMS: This study aims to examine the characteristics associated with unacceptable/taboo thoughts. METHODS: Using the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale Symptom Checklist (YBOCS-SC) with 154 individuals with OCD, obsessive-compulsive symptoms were subjected to principal components analysis. The characteristics associated with the resulting symptom dimensions were then assessed using logistic and linear regression techniques. RESULTS: Unacceptable/taboo thoughts comprised of sexual, religious and impulsive aggressive obsessions, and mental rituals. Higher scores on an unacceptable/taboo thoughts symptom dimension were predicted by higher Y-BOCS obsession subscores, Y-BOCS time preoccupied by obsessions scores, Y-BOCS distress due to obsessions scores, importance of control of thought ratings, male gender, and having had treatment prior to entering into the study. Unacceptable/taboo thoughts were also predicted by greater levels of hostility, and a past history of non-alcohol substance dependence. CONCLUSIONS: An unacceptable/taboo thought symptom dimension of OCD is supported by a unique set of associated characteristics that should be considered in the assessment and treatment of individuals with these symptoms.
    Comprehensive psychiatry 04/2013; · 2.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: To describe the use of psychotropic agents in a sample of subjects with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and in particular the differences associated with different OCD symptoms. METHOD: A total of 154 subjects participated in a study assessing OCD symptom subtypes, called the Nepean OCD Study. In addition to a comprehensive evaluation of the subjects' OCD symptoms using the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS), Vancouver Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory (VOCI), and the Sheehan Disability Scale (SDS), the subjects' medication history was recorded. The association between symptom severity, disability, OCD symptom subtypes and the use of psychotropic agents was examined. RESULTS: Psychotropic medication was taken by 93 (60.4%) participants. In the majority of cases (n=55, 59.1%), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were taken, and of the SSRIs, the most commonly used agent was escitalopram (n=21, 22.6%). Psychotropic agents were more likely to be taken by subjects with higher Y-BOCS and SDS scores. Hoarding was associated with a lower likelihood of psychotropic use, whereas unacceptable/taboo thoughts were associated with an increased likelihood of psychotropic and antipsychotic use. CONCLUSION: Patients with OCD are more likely to be taking psychotropic agents if they have a more severe illness, greater disability and more prominent unacceptable/taboo thoughts.
    Australasian Psychiatry 02/2013; · 0.60 Impact Factor
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    Vladan Starcevic, David Berle
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    ABSTRACT: Looking for information about symptoms and illnesses on the Internet is common and often serves useful purposes. However, a number of people who are overly distressed or anxious about their health perform excessive or repeated health-related searches on the Internet, only to become more distressed or frightened - a pattern defined here as cyberchondria. This behavior, which can also be construed as a form of reassurance seeking and occurs as a manifestation of health anxiety and hypochondriasis, is the focus of this article. The antecedents of cyberchondria, factors that maintain it and its consequences are examined conceptually and in light of the relatively little research that has been performed so far. Managing cyberchondria poses a challenge, and several approaches as part of the treatment of health anxiety and hypochondriasis are described. The article makes suggestions for further research on cyberchondria.
    Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics 02/2013; 13(2):205-213. · 2.96 Impact Factor
  • Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 01/2013; 47(Supplement 1):40-41. · 3.77 Impact Factor
  • Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 01/2013; 47(Supplement 1):75-76. · 3.77 Impact Factor
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    David Berle, Michelle L Moulds
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    ABSTRACT: Emotional reasoning refers to the use of subjective emotions, rather than objective evidence, to form conclusions about oneself and the world [1]. Emotional reasoning appears to characterise anxiety disorders. We aimed to determine whether elevated levels of emotional reasoning also characterise dysphoria. In Study 1, low dysphoric (BDI-II≤4; n = 28) and high dysphoric (BDI-II ≥14; n = 42) university students were administered an emotional reasoning task relevant for dysphoria. In Study 2, a larger university sample were administered the same task, with additional self-referent ratings, and were followed up 8 weeks later. In Study 1, both the low and high dysphoric participants demonstrated emotional reasoning and there were no significant differences in scores on the emotional reasoning task between the low and high dysphoric groups. In Study 2, self-referent emotional reasoning interpretations showed small-sized positive correlations with depression symptoms. Emotional reasoning tendencies were stable across an 8-week interval although not predictive of subsequent depressive symptoms. Further, anxiety symptoms were independently associated with emotional reasoning and emotional reasoning was not associated with anxiety sensitivity, alexithymia, or deductive reasoning tendencies. The implications of these findings are discussed, including the possibility that while all individuals may engage in emotional reasoning, self-referent emotional reasoning may be associated with increased levels of depressive symptoms.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(6):e67359. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 01/2013; 47(Supplement 1):13. · 3.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study aimed to examine interpersonal reassurance seeking (IRS) in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and the relationship between IRS and checking compulsions. One hundred and forty adults with OCD underwent a comprehensive assessment, which included obtaining information on seeking reassurance from others because of their obsessions. Sixty-seven (47.9%) participants reported IRS. They exhibited more psychopathology than participants without IRS, tended to have a greater overall severity of OCD and were far more likely to have checking compulsions. Participants with IRS also had more severe obsessions, suggesting that IRS plays a role as an additional coping strategy when obsessions are more prominent. The severity of obsessions and the absence of obsessions about a need to collect and keep objects were independent predictors of IRS, whereas the presence of obsessions about unintentional harm and not being married or in a de facto relationship independently predicted checking compulsions. Although a close relationship exists between IRS and checking compulsions, these results suggest important differences, with implications for understanding the factors that contribute to IRS and checking compulsions.
    Psychiatry Research 07/2012; · 2.68 Impact Factor
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    David Berle, Vladan Starcevic
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    ABSTRACT: To present the psychometric properties of the Nepean Dysphoria Scale (NDS), the first instrument developed to measure the severity of dysphoria. The NDS was administered to 134 university students and its characteristics were examined. The structure of the scale was investigated using exploratory factor analysis. Convergent and divergent validity were examined by investigating the associations between the NDS and its subscales with other conceptually similar (Beck Depression Inventory II, Dysfunctional Attitude Scale-Form A and Toronto Alexithymia Scale) and conceptually distinct (Anxiety Sensitivity Index) instruments. The 24-item NDS demonstrated excellent internal consistency. A four-factor solution was derived, with factors pertaining to irritability, discontent, surrender and interpersonal resentment. There were medium to strong correlations between the NDS and its subscales and depressive symptoms as measured by the Beck Depression Inventory II. The NDS and its subscales showed weaker, but still significant, correlations with Dysfunctional Attitude Scale-Form A, Toronto Alexithymia Scale and Anxiety Sensitivity Index. The study suggests that the NDS has good psychometric properties. Further research would more firmly establish the NDS as a valid measure of the complex emotional state of dysphoria.
    Australasian Psychiatry 07/2012; 20(4):322-6. · 0.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives: There are ongoing uncertainties in the relationship between obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). This study aimed to test the proposition that OCPD may be a marker of severity of OCD by comparing groups of OCD individuals with and without OCPD on a number of variables.Method: A total of 148 adults with a principal diagnosis of OCD were administered the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview, Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale, Sheehan Disability Scale, Vancouver Obsessional Compulsive Inventory and Symptom Checklist 90-Revised. Participants with a DSM-IV diagnosis of OCPD were compared with those without OCPD.Results: Some 70 (47.3%) participants were diagnosed with OCPD. The groups of participants with and without OCPD did not differ significantly with respect to any of the demographic variables, clinician-rated severity of OCD, levels of disability and mean age of onset of OCD. All self-rated OCD symptom dimensions except for contamination and checking were significantly more prominent in participants with OCPD, as were all self-rated dimensions of psychopathology. Participants with OCPD had significantly more frequent hoarding compulsions and obsessions involving a need to collect and keep objects. Of Axis I disorders, only panic disorder was significantly more frequent in participants with OCPD than in those without OCPD.Conclusions: A high frequency of OCPD among individuals with OCD suggests a strong, although not necessarily a unique, relationship between the two conditions. This finding may also be a consequence of the blurring of the boundary between OCD and OCPD by postulating that hoarding and hoarding-like behaviours characterise both disorders. Results of this study do not support the notion that OCD with OCPD is a marker of clinician-rated severity of OCD. However, individuals with OCPD had more prominent OCD symptoms, they were more distressed and exhibited various other psychopathological phenomena more intensely, which is likely to complicate their treatment.
    Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 06/2012; · 3.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The question of whether certain anxiety disorders are especially related to a cognitive style characterized by an exaggerated perception of threat and appraisal of the future as excessively unpredictable (general anxiety-prone cognitive style) remains open. This study aimed to compare patients with generalized social anxiety disorder (SAD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder with agoraphobia (PDA), and panic disorder without agoraphobia (PD) in terms of the levels of general anxiety-prone cognitive style when the severity of general distress and psychopathology is controlled for and to ascertain whether a co-occurring depressive disorder contributes substantially to the levels of this cognitive style. The Anxious Thoughts and Tendencies Scale, a measure of a general anxiety-prone cognitive style, and Symptom Checklist 90-Revised were administered to 204 patients with various anxiety disorders who attended an outpatient anxiety disorders clinic and were diagnosed based on a semistructured diagnostic interview. Patients with principal diagnoses of SAD and GAD had a more prominent general anxiety-prone cognitive style than patients with principal diagnoses of PD and PDA when the severity of general distress and psychopathology was controlled for. The presence or absence of a co-occurring depressive disorder had no bearing on this finding. The general cognitive component characterizes SAD and GAD more than it does PD and PDA, and a co-occurring depressive disorder does not affect this finding. These results have implications for distinguishing between various anxiety disorders.
    Comprehensive psychiatry 09/2011; 53(5):427-33. · 2.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Findings from non-clinical samples suggest that disgust propensity is associated with contamination concerns in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, studies of clinical samples have yielded conflicting results. We investigated the relationship between disgust propensity and OCD symptoms in a clinical sample and examined whether changes in disgust propensity are associated with changes in OCD symptoms. One hundred and nine OCD participants completed measures of disgust propensity and OCD symptoms. Sixty of these underwent a six-month follow-up assessment. At the baseline assessment, disgust propensity was associated with all OCD symptom dimensions except hoarding. Changes in overall disgust propensity between baseline and the six-month follow-up assessment were associated with changes in overall self-reported OCD symptoms but not with changes in contamination-based OCD symptoms or changes in interviewer-assessed OCD symptoms. There was substantial participant attrition between the baseline and follow-up assessments. Our study is the first to investigate prospective relationships between disgust propensity and OCD across a six-month interval. Our findings suggest that if there is an association between changes in disgust propensity and changes in contamination-based OCD symptoms its magnitude is likely to be small.
    Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 09/2011; 43(1):656-63. · 2.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Avoidance in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has been neglected by research. This study aimed (i) to collect information on the nature and frequency of avoidance in people with OCD and ascertain the types of obsessions related to avoidance; (ii) compare OCD individuals with and without avoidance, and (iii) determine predictors of avoidance in people with OCD. A total of 124 OCD adults underwent a comprehensive assessment. Participants were asked whether they engaged in any avoidance behaviour because of their OCD, and the nature and number of instances of such avoidance were recorded. The instances of avoidance were grouped according to the type of obsession and compulsion that they were related to. A total of 74 (59.7%) participants reported OCD-related avoidance. Avoidance was most commonly related to contamination obsessions. Almost 80% of all contamination obsessions and more than 50% of all aggressive obsessions were associated with avoidance, and contamination obsessions were significantly more common among the participants with avoidance. In contrast, very few obsessions about a need to collect and keep objects and obsessions about a need for ordering, arranging and doing things right or in an exact way were associated with avoidance; these types of obsessions were also significantly more common among the participants without avoidance. The strongest predictor of avoidance was the presence of contamination obsessions. Participants with avoidance had a significantly more severe OCD than those without avoidance. Avoidance is common in OCD, and it is particularly frequently associated with contamination obsessions. There is a weak link between avoidance and hoarding and between avoidance and ordering/arranging/symmetry obsessions and compulsions. These results, along with the finding that OCD with avoidance is a more severe illness, have implications for the future diagnostic criteria, description, subtyping and treatment of OCD and for its relationship with other anxiety disorders.
    Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 08/2011; 45(10):871-9. · 3.77 Impact Factor

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