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Trichotillomania: the impact of treatment history on the outcome of an Internet-based intervention

Authors Weidt S, Bruhl AB, Delsignore A, Zai G, Kuenburg A, Klaghofer R, Rufer M

Received 24 November 2016

Accepted for publication 6 January 2017

Published 21 April 2017 Volume 2017:13 Pages 1153—1162


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder

Steffi Weidt,1 Annette Beatrix Bruehl,2,3 Aba Delsignore,1 Gwyneth Zai,2,4–6 Alexa Kuenburg,1 Richard Klaghofer,1 Michael Rufer1

1Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Zurich, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland; 2Department of Psychiatry, Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK; 3Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, University Hospital of Psychiatry, Zurich, Switzerland; 4Department of Psychiatry, Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, 5Neurogenetics Section, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 6Department of Psychiatry, Frederick W. Thompson Anxiety Disorders Centre, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada

Background: Many patients suffering from trichotillomania (TTM) have never undergone treatment. Without treatment, TTM often presents with a chronic course. Characteristics of TTM individuals who have never been treated (untreated) remain largely unknown. Whether treatment history impacts Internet-based interventions has not yet been investigated. We aimed to answer whether Internet-based interventions can reach untreated individuals and whether treatment history is associated with certain characteristics and impacts on the outcome of an Internet-based intervention.
Methods: We provided Internet-based interventions. Subjects were characterized at three time points using the Massachusetts General Hospital Hairpulling Scale, Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, and the World Health Organization Quality of Life questionnaire.
Results: Of 105 individuals, 34 were untreated. Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) was markedly impaired in untreated and treated individuals. Symptom severity did not differ between untreated and treated individuals. Nontreatment was associated with fewer depressive symptoms (P=0.002). Treatment history demonstrated no impact on the outcome of Internet-based interventions.
Conclusion: Results demonstrate that Internet-based interventions can reach untreated TTM individuals. They show that untreated individuals benefit as much as treated individuals from such interventions. Future Internet-based interventions should focus on how to best reach/support untreated individuals with TTM. Additionally, future studies may examine whether Internet-based interventions can reach and help untreated individuals suffering from other psychiatric disorders.

Keywords: trichotillomania, health-related quality of life, treatment experience, Internet, online, hairpulling

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