The role of compulsivity in body-focused repetitive behaviors

Grant, J. E., & Chamberlain, S. R. (2022). The role of compulsivity in body-focused repetitive behaviors. Journal of psychiatric research, 151, 365–367.


Trichotillomania (TTM) and skin picking disorder (SPD) have been characterized as body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) and have been grouped in the DSM-5 as part of the obsessive-compulsive and related disorders. Despite the clinical similarities between BFRBs and the compulsions of OCD, there has been little research regarding the degree to which compulsivity underpins these behaviors. 88 adults (69 female; mean age 30.9 years) with DSM-5 TTM or SPD completed standard diagnostic interviews, basic demographic information, symptom inventories about TTM and SPD, and measures of disability/functioning. Compulsivity was measured using the 15-item Cambridge-Chicago Compulsivity Trait Scale (CHI-T). Relationships between CHI-T scores and the other measures of interest were characterized using Pearson's correlations. Of the 88 participants, 48 (54.5%) had TTM, 37 (42.0%) had SPD and 3 (3.4%) had both. CHI-T total scores correlated with worse disability and quality of life but not with BFRB symptom severity. This study demonstrates that compulsivity is a marked contributor to worse disability and quality of life in people with BFRBs, more so than conventional measures of BFRB symptom severity (which did not correlate with disability/quality of life). Future work should include compulsivity measures in BFRB studies (including treatment trials) and explore its role in other related disorders.