Body-focused repetitive behavior problems. Prevalence in a nonreferred population and differences in perceived somatic activity

Behav Modif. 2002 Jul;26(3):340-60. doi: 10.1177/0145445502026003003.


Body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) such as skin picking or scratching and nail biting can be physically and socially detrimental. Given the potential consequences associated with these behaviors, it is unfortunate this area has received relatively limited attention. The two purposes of the current study were (a) to determine the prevalence of BFRBs among typically developing persons and (b) to examine the contribution of reported somatic activity to the occurrence of BFRBs. Results indicated that 13.7% of the sample met criteria for at least one BFRB, of which the most common topography was nail biting. Persons with a BFRB reported significantly more somatic activity than persons without a BFRB. Further analyses revealed consistent findings across three separate topographies in which persons with a BFRB for nail biting, mouth chewing, and/or skin picking reported significantly more somatic activity than did persons without a BFRB. Clinical implications and diagnostic considerations are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / diagnosis
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / epidemiology*
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / psychology
  • Stereotypic Movement Disorder / diagnosis
  • Stereotypic Movement Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Stereotypic Movement Disorder / psychology
  • Students / psychology
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Wisconsin / epidemiology