Modeling a multidimensional model of memory performance in obsessive-compulsive disorder: A multilevel meta-analytic review

Sofia Persson, Alan Yates, Klaus Kessler, Ben Harkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Even though memory performance is a commonly researched aspect of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a coherent and unified explanation of the role of specific cognitive factors has remained elusive. To address this, the present meta-analysis examined the predictive validity of Harkin and Kessler's (2011b) executive function, binding complexity, and memory load (EBL) Classification System concerning affected versus unaffected memory performance in OCD. We employed a multilevel meta-analytic approach (Viechtbauer, 2010) to accommodate the interdependent nature of the EBL model and interdependency of effect sizes (305 effect sizes from 144 studies, including 4,424 OCD patients). Results revealed that the EBL model predicted memory performance; that is, as EBL demand increases, those with OCD performed progressively worse on memory tasks. Executive function was the driving mechanism behind the EBL's impact on OCD memory performance, as it negated binding complexity, memory load, and visual or verbal task differences. Comparisons of subtask effect sizes were also generally in accord with the cognitive parameters of the EBL taxonomy. We conclude that standardized coding of tasks along individual cognitive dimensions and multilevel meta-analyses provides a new approach to examine multidimensional models of memory and cognitive performance in OCD and other disorders. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-364
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021

Bibliographical note

This version of the article may not completely replicate the final authoritative version published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology at 10.1037/abn0000660. It is not the version of record and is therefore not suitable for citation. Please do not copy or cite without the permission of the author(s).

Funding: KK was supported by MRC grant MR/J001953/1.


  • executive function
  • memory performance
  • multilevel meta-analysis
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder


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