About This Project

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is an Obsessive Compulsive Related Disorder characterized by an extreme preoccupation with a perceived flaw in physical appearance. The goal of our study is to determine whether a computerized treatment, delivered at home, is effective in reducing symptoms associated with the disorder.

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What is the context of this research?

BDD is characterized by severe symptom profiles and is associated with poor quality of life. In some cases, individuals may become so preoccupied or distressed with their perceived flaw in appearance that they may be home-bound. Suicide rates in BDD are strikingly high, with a history of suicidal thoughts reported in up to 78% of individuals with BDD, and suicide attempt rates as high as 28%, highlighting the need for effective treatments for the disorder.

While successful treatments for BDD have been developed, these treatments can be time consuming and costly. By conducting this study, we hope to determine whether a computerized, low-cost, efficient treatment can be effective in treating symptoms associated with the disorder.

What is the significance of this project?

This study will help us determine the feasibility of a brief, low-cost treatment for BDD called interpretation bias modification (IBM), which is a series of computerized tasks intended to train people with BDD to perceive appearance-related situations as less threatening.

Furthermore, the proposed treatment can be administered entirely from home, an option that may be preferable for individuals who are home-bound or who are not living close to a BDD specialist who can provide them with proper care.

Lastly, this study will extend previous research efforts aimed at targeting symptoms such as social anxiety or depression through computerized training programs.

What are the goals of the project?

We will be recruiting individuals with BDD from across the nation. Participants will be randomized to one of two treatment conditions: interpretation bias modification or progressive muscle relaxation. All participants will receive 8 short (15-25 min) sessions of treatment, which will occur over the course of one month.

The study will help us evaluate whether IBM is more effective than another form of psychological treatment in not only reducing symptoms of BDD, but also related symptoms such as depressed mood, anxiety, and suicidality. We will also be able to determine whether treatment effects last by following up with our participants 3 months after they complete treatment.

Ultimately, our goal is to develop a new, easily accessed form of treatment for individuals suffering from BDD.


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The vast majority of our budget will be dedicated to compensating our participants for taking the time to complete interviews and treatment sessions.

The budget will allow for compensation of 30 participants from the community. Participants will be paid $5 for each session they participate in (up to 8 sessions), $20 for participating in a phone interview one week after they finish treatment, and $20 for a final phone interview 3 months after they have participated.

Students will also be recruited to participate in the study. They will receive course credit for participation in sessions as well as the post-treatment interview, but will be paid for participation in the 3 month follow up interview ($20). Our budget will allow for the compensation of 10 students for participation in their follow-up interview.

The remaining funding will be used to pay for study materials and supplies as well as Experiment.com usage fees.

Meet the Team

Natalie Matheny
Natalie Matheny

Team Bio

Natalie is a Ph.D. student in Clinical Psychology at Florida State University, studying under the guidance of Dr. Jesse Cougle.

Natalie earned her Bachelor's degree in Clinical Psychology at Tufts University in Medford, MA in 2012. Following graduation, she worked for two years as a Clinical Research Coordinator at the Massachusetts General Hospital's OCD and Related Disorders Program. Her research interests include the maintenance and treatment of OC-spectrum disorders, and more specifically, computerized treatments for body dysmorphic disorder. In addition, she is interested in exploring suicidality and trauma history in individuals with BDD.

The proposed project will be conducted as her Master's Thesis project, an integral step towards receiving her Master of Science degree (projected Spring 2016) and her Ph.D. (projected Summer 2020).

Project Backers

  • 44Backers
  • 100%Funded
  • $3,004Total Donations
  • $68.27Average Donation
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