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Prevalence and clinical characteristics of body dysmorphic disorder in an adult inpatient setting

Michelle Conroy, William Menard, Kathryn Fleming-Ives, Poonam Modha, Hilary Cerullo, Katharine A Phillips
General Hospital Psychiatry 2008, 30 (1): 67-72

OBJECTIVE: Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), a distressing or impairing preoccupation with an imagined or slight defect in appearance, is an often-severe, understudied disorder. We determined BDD's prevalence and clinical features on a general adult psychiatric inpatient unit. To our knowledge, only one previous prevalence study has been done in this setting.

METHOD: One hundred patients completed 3 self-report measures: the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Questionnaire (BDD-Q), Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Those who screened positive for BDD were interviewed to confirm DSM-IV BDD and its clinical features. Charts were reviewed for demographic and clinical information.

RESULTS: BDD was diagnosed in 16.0% (95% CI=8.7-23.3%) (n=16) of patients. A high proportion of those with BDD reported that BDD symptoms contributed to suicidality. Patients revealed BDD symptoms to a mean of only 15.1%+/-33.7% lifetime mental health clinicians; only one (6.3%) reported symptoms to his current inpatient psychiatrist. Most did not disclose their symptoms due to embarrassment. Those with BDD were younger (P=.008) and had higher CES-D scores (P=.008). The two groups did not significantly differ on BAI score, demographic characteristics or discharge diagnoses.

CONCLUSIONS: BDD is relatively common but underdiagnosed in psychiatric inpatients and is associated with more severe depressive symptoms.

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