Testing a New Therapy for Trichotillomania

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Brief Title

Testing a New Therapy for Trichotillomania

Official Title

Acceptance Enhanced Behavior Therapy for Trichotillomania

Brief Summary

      This study will test the effectiveness of a new behavioral therapy for adults with
      trichotillomania (compulsive hair pulling).

Detailed Description

      Trichotillomania (TTM) is a disorder in which people compulsively pull out their own hair.
      Treatments for TTM sometimes do not have long-term effectiveness. Acceptance and commitment
      therapy (ACT) is a therapeutic approach thought to have longer lasting effects than standard
      cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approaches, because ACT focuses on accepting thoughts and
      behaviors as opposed to changing them. Previous research indicates that a combination of ACT
      and habit reversal behavioral therapy is more effective than no treatment. This study will
      test whether a combination of ACT and behavioral therapy, called acceptance enhanced
      behavioral therapy (AEBT), is more effective than the current standard treatment for TTM.

      Participation in this study will last 12 weeks, and follow-up assessments will last for 6
      months. At study entry, participants will complete a brief intelligence test and an in-person
      interview about their medical history, psychiatric history, and hair pulling. At their second
      visit, participants will have digital pictures taken of their hair-pulling sites and complete
      two computer tasks measuring their response inhibition and cognitive flexibility. After the
      second visit, participants will be randomly assigned to receive either AEBT or
      psychoeducation and supportive therapy (PST)-a standard treatment for TTM. Both treatments
      will involve ten 1-hour sessions completed over 12 weeks. Assessments of participants will
      occur after 6 weeks of treatment, at treatment completion, and after 6 months. These
      assessments will measure treatment effectiveness, based on several clinical scales and
      measures of TTM symptoms. Participants who receive PST during this study will be offered AEBT

Study Phase

Phase 2

Study Type


Primary Outcome

Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement Scale

Secondary Outcome

 Massachusetts General Hospital Hairpulling Scale




Acceptance enhanced behavior therapy (AEBT)

Study Arms / Comparison Groups

Description:  Participants will receive acceptance enhanced behavior therapy (AEBT) for trichotillomania (TTM).


* Includes publications given by the data provider as well as publications identified by National Clinical Trials Identifier (NCT ID) in Medline.

Recruitment Information

Recruitment Status


Estimated Enrollment


Start Date

March 2009

Completion Date

November 30, 2015

Primary Completion Date

October 2013

Eligibility Criteria

        Inclusion Criteria:

          -  Current DSM-IV diagnosis of trichotillomania

          -  Massachusetts General Hospital Hair Scale score greater than 12

          -  Wechsler Test of Adult Reading score greater than 85

          -  Fluent in English

          -  Outpatient status

          -  Agreement to not alter the dosage of any psychotropic medication throughout the course
             of the study, or, if such a dosage change is required, understanding that the
             participant will continue to receive treatment, and data will continue to be collected
             on him or her

          -  Individuals who eat their hair after pulling will be eligible for participation only
             after they have received a physical exam from their primary care physician to
             determine whether there is any gastrointestinal blockage due to hair pulling, which
             would require more immediate clinical care.

        Exclusion Criteria:

          -  Diagnosis of bipolar disorder, psychotic disorder, mental retardation, pervasive
             developmental disorder, or current substance dependence (with the exception of
             nicotine dependence)

          -  Current mood or anxiety disorder with an active suicide risk

          -  Currently receiving psychotherapy for trichotillomania or another psychiatric

          -  Initiation or change in the dosage of any psychotropic medication for up to 8 weeks
             preceding participation in the study




18 Years - 65 Years

Accepts Healthy Volunteers



Douglas W. Woods, PhD, , 

Location Countries

United States

Location Countries

United States

Administrative Informations



Organization ID


Secondary IDs


Responsible Party

Principal Investigator

Study Sponsor

University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee


 National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Study Sponsor

Douglas W. Woods, PhD, Principal Investigator, Marquette University

Verification Date

September 2021