A 12-month follow-up study of the course of body dysmorphic disorder

Katharine A Phillips, Maria E Pagano, William Menard, Robert L Stout
American Journal of Psychiatry 2006, 163 (5): 907-12

OBJECTIVE: This study investigated the course of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), a relatively common and severe disorder, in the first prospective follow-up study, to the authors' knowledge.

METHOD: In this study, the authors obtained data with the Longitudinal Interval Follow-Up Evaluation on weekly BDD symptom status and treatment received over 1 year for 183 broadly ascertained subjects. Probabilities of full remission, partial remission, and relapse during this year were examined. Full remission was defined as minimal or no BDD symptoms and partial remission, as meeting less than full DSM-IV criteria for at least 8 consecutive weeks. Relapse was defined as meeting full BDD criteria for at least 2 consecutive weeks after attaining partial or full remission from BDD.

RESULTS: Over 1 year, the probability of full remission from BDD was only 0.09, and the probability of partial remission was 0.21. Although 84.2% of the subjects received mental health treatment during the 1-year period, mean BDD severity scores during the year reflected full DSM-IV criteria for BDD, and the mean proportion of time that the subjects met full BDD criteria was 80%. Gender and ethnicity did not significantly predict remission from BDD. Among the subjects whose BDD symptoms partially or fully remitted, the probability of relapse was 0.15.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate that BDD tends to be chronic. Remission probabilities were lower than reported for mood disorders, most anxiety disorders, and personality disorders in studies with similar methods.

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