Predictors of relapse following treatment of Trichotillomania
Objective This study sought to identify predictors of relapse in a behavior therapy trial for trichotillomania (TTM), or hair-pulling disorder. Relapse is common after treatment for TTM, and only a few studies have examined what might predict relapse. Method Data was examined from a TTM treatment study with a stepped-care approach (step 1. web-based self-help; step 2. individual behavior therapy) (N = 60). Implications of significant predictive relations were illustrated by constructing Probability of Treatment Benefit (PTB) charts (Lindhiem, Kolko, & Cheng, 2012), which quantify the probability of maintaining gains according to predictors of maintenance. Results Abstinence at the conclusion of treatment and lower TTM severity during initial response significantly predicted maintenance. Abstinence periods prior to treatment, residual urges after achieving abstinence, pre-treatment TTM severity, intrinsic motivation, and treatment compliance did not predict maintenance. Conclusions Post-treatment abstinence and lower TTM severity during initial response predicted maintenance. Replications of this research are needed to determine the usefulness of these possible predictors in identifying relapse-prone patients, with the aim of improving clinical decision-making and developing strategies to help these patients better maintain gains. This is the first TTM study to use PTB charts, which can help clarify the meaning of prognostic analyses.