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In clinical samples, body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is associated with substantial suffering and reduced quality of life. Limited surveys report widely varying prevalence estimates. To better establish the prevalence of BDD, we conducted a United States nationwide prevalence survey.
We conducted a random sample national household telephone survey in the spring and summer of 2004 and interviewed 2,513 adults, of whom 2,048 qualified for the BDD-module administration. The computer-assisted, structured interviews, conducted by trained lay interviewers, addressed Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition criteria for BDD, along with information regarding several impulse-control disorders and the respondents' financial and demographic data.
The rate of response was 56.3%, which compared favorably with rates in federal national health surveys. The cooperation rate was 97.6%. Respondents included a higher percentage of women and people >55 years of age than in the US adult population, and a lower percentage of Hispanics. The estimated point prevalence of DSM-IV BDD among respondents was 2.4% (49/2,048) (by gender: 2.5% for women, 2.2% for men), exceeding the prevalence of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder type I and about that of generalized anxiety disorder. BDD prevalence decreased after 44 years of age, and a larger proportion of BDD respondents were never married. Of those meeting DSM-IV criteria for BDD, 90% (45/49) met the DSM-IV distress criterion, and 51% (25/49) met the interference-with-functioning criterion.
A study using clinically valid interviews is needed to evaluate these results. Such studies could inform treatment by documenting rates of seeking treatment from various sources, suicide attempt rates, and the prevalence of comorbid conditions.
The Internet has positively altered many aspects of life. However, for a subset of users, the medium may have become a consuming problem that exhibits features of impulse control disorders recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition.
This is the first large-scale epidemiological study of problematic Internet use through a random-digit-dial telephone survey of 2,513 adults in the United States. Given the lack of validated criteria, survey questions were extrapolated from established diagnostic criteria for impulse control disorders, obsessivecompulsive disorder, and substance abuse. Four possible diagnostic criteria sets were generated.The least restrictive set required the respondent to report an unsuccessful effort to reduce Internet use or a history of remaining online longer than intended, Internet use interfering with relationships, and a preoccupation with Internet use when offline.
The response rate was 56.3%. Interviews averaged 11.3 minutes in duration. From 3.7% to 13% of respondents endorsed ≥1 markers consistent with problematic Internet use. The least restrictive proposed diagnostic criteria set yielded a prevalence of problematic Internet use of 0.7%.
Potential markers of problematic Internet use seem present in a sizeable proportion of adults. Future studies should delineate whether problematic Internet use constitutes a pathological behavior that meets criteria for an independent disorder, or represents a symptom of other psychopathologies.
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