Initial psychometrics, outcomes, and correlates of the Repetitive Body Focused Behavior Scale: Examination in a sample of youth with anxiety and/or obsessive-compulsive disorder

Robert R. Selles, Valérie La Buissonnière Ariza, Nicole M. McBride, Julie Dammann, Stephen Perry Whiteside, Eric A. Storch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Background Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs), including skin-picking, hair-pulling, and nail-biting, commonly occur in youth, even at elevated/problematic levels, and are associated with a number of other psychiatric symptoms. The present study examined the internal consistency of a brief screening tool for BFRBs as well as the prevalence, severity, and correlates of BFRBs in a sample of youth with a primary anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Methods Ninety-three youth-parent dyads presenting for treatment for anxiety or OCD completed study measures including the Repetitive Body Focused Behavior Scale — Parent (RBFBS), which includes subscales for skin-picking, hair-pulling, and nail-biting, as well as a number of additional clinician-, parent-, and child-rated scales. Results The RBFBS demonstrated good to excellent internal consistency. BFRBs were endorsed in 55% of youths, with elevated levels in 27%. Skin-picking was the most common BFRB (38%), followed by nail-biting (34%) and hair-pulling (4%). Youth with BFRBs, as compared to those without, were rated as more avoidant by their parents. Among those with BFRBs, more avoidant tendencies, anxiety sensitivity, and child-rated panic, separation, and generalized anxiety symptoms were associated with elevated BFRB severity. BFRBs were equally common but more likely to be elevated among youth with a primary anxiety, than OCD, diagnosis. Discussion Results provide initial support for the RBFBS as a brief screening tool for the three common BFRBs. In addition, the results suggest avoidant tendencies and physical manifestations of distress may be particularly relevant to the escalation of BFRB symptoms in youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-17
Number of pages8
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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