Prevalence and correlates of body dysmorphic disorder in a community sample of adolescents.


Objective: Body dysmorphic disorder typically begins in adolescence, yet little is known about the prevalence and correlates of the disorder in this age group. The current study aimed to explore the presenting features of adolescents meeting probable criteria for body dysmorphic disorder in a large community sample, and compare levels of comorbid psychopathology, quality of life and mental health service use between adolescents with probable body dysmorphic disorder and those without. Method: Questionnaires were completed at school by 3149 adolescents: 63% male, aged 12-18 years (M = 14.58). These assessed Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.) body dysmorphic disorder criteria, past mental health service use and symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder, anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and eating disorders. In male participants, additional measures assessed quality of life, muscularity concerns, emotional symptoms, peer problems, conduct problems and hyperactivity. Results: The prevalence of probable body dysmorphic disorder was 1.7%; there was no sex difference in prevalence, but older adolescents reported higher prevalence than younger adolescents. Probable body dysmorphic disorder participants reported substantially elevated levels of psychopathology, quality of life impairment and mental health service use compared to non-body dysmorphic disorder participants. Conclusions: The prevalence of body dysmorphic disorder in adolescents is similar to adult samples, and probable body dysmorphic disorder is associated with comorbidity, distress and functional impairment in a community sample. Further research is required to better understand the presentation of body dysmorphic disorder in adolescents, and to improve diagnosis and treatment.