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Gender similarities and differences in 200 individuals with body dysmorphic disorder

Katharine A Phillips, William Menard, Christina Fay
Comprehensive Psychiatry 2006, 47 (2): 77-87

BACKGROUND: Gender is a critically important moderator of psychopathology. However, gender similarities and differences in body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) have received scant investigation. In this study, we examined gender similarities and differences in the broadest sample in which this topic has been examined.

METHODS: Two hundred subjects with BDD recruited from diverse sources were assessed with a variety of standard measures.

RESULTS: There were more similarities than differences between men and women, but many gender differences were found. The men were significantly older and more likely to be single and living alone. Men were more likely to obsess about their genitals, body build, and thinning hair/balding; excessively lift weights; and have a substance use disorder. In contrast, women were more likely to obsess about their skin, stomach, weight, breasts/chest, buttocks, thighs, legs, hips, toes, and excessive body/facial hair, and they were excessively concerned with more body areas. Women also performed more repetitive and safety behaviors, and were more likely to camouflage and use certain camouflaging techniques, check mirrors, change their clothes, pick their skin, and have an eating disorder. Women also had earlier onset of subclinical BDD symptoms and more severe BDD as assessed by the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Examination. However, men had more severe BDD as assessed by the Psychiatric Status Rating Scale for Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and they had poorer Global Assessment of Functioning Scale scores, were less likely to be working because of psychopathology, and were more likely to be receiving disability, including disability for BDD.

CONCLUSIONS: The clinical features of BDD in men and women have many similarities but also some interesting and important differences. These findings have implications for the detection and treatment of BDD.

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