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AKRON -- Akron Children's Hospital and Kent State University are collaborating on a study investigating risk factors and treatment for children with anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), hair pulling and related problems.

The researchers are screening children 9 to 17 years old who:

  • Have worries, thoughts, or pictures they can't shake
  • Worry about dirt, germs, or catching an illness
  • Wash hands frequently or shower for a long time
  • Check, touch, tap or rub things over and over - a certain number of times or until it feels "just right" or "even"
  • Worry that something bad will happen to their family
  • Spend a lot of time erasing schoolwork
  • Worry about saying or doing the wrong thing
  • Worry about many things like grades, being rejected by peers, leaving home
  • Feel that certain numbers, colors or words are lucky
  • Ask reassuring questions over and over

Even children who have just one symptom on this checklist may be eligible for the study, which is led by Christopher Flessner, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at Kent State, and Sumru Bilge-Johnson, M.D., a pediatric psychiatrist at Akron Children's.

According to Dr. Bilge-Johnson, it is important to diagnose these conditions early in children. "OCD and hair pulling can go unrecognized and become more severe if not treated," she said. "They can also lead to depression and other mental health problems."

The study involves a diagnostic assessment for OCD, playing a computer game, and written and verbal feedback, such as possible diagnoses, treatment options and referrals, if the child qualifies. Not all children will qualify for the study.

For more information, call the Child Anxiety Research Program at Kent State at 330-672-2200.