Current Research

Astrid Müller, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher from Erlangen University in southern Germany, has been studying compulsive buying for the past six years. She’s recently published a study with several colleagues that replicated the finding of James Mitchell’s 2006 pilot study of a 12-session cognitive-behavioral group treatment with overshoppers. Overshoppers who participated in this group reduced their compulsive buying significantly more than overshoppers who were on a waiting list for the group. While the differences between the two groups were statistically significant and those differences held up over a 6-month follow-up, only 1/3 of the group members had changed their shopping behavior significantly enough to now be classified as normal buyers. Dr. Müller is also conducting research with compulsive buyers who are self-monitoring their compulsive buying behavior, their momentary mood, and the occurrence of stressful events four times a day on a handheld computer. Dr. Müller can be contacted at astrid.mueller@uk-erlangen.de.

James Mitchell, M.D., President of the Neurological Research Institute in Fargo, North Dakota, is currently doing a larger validation study to demonstrate the effectiveness of cognitive-behavior therapy with compulsive buyers and examine the longer term effects over time for individuals who complete the program. He’s also working to evaluate a self-help version of the program, which has not yet been tested. He and his colleagues are implementing a program of dissemination in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, holding day-long workshops, free of charge, for therapists and other professionals who work with compulsive buyers (including financial counselors). Workshop attendees become familiar with the treatment manual and can then use it in their work with individuals. Dr. Mitchell can be contacted at jmitchell@nrifargo.com.

And our very own, Kathleen Galek, Ph.D. is the principal investigator in a new study where she’s surveyed over 500 college students. When the study is published, it will be the first study to find an empirical connection between compulsive shopping and compulsive eating. As more of the data is analyzed, we’ll report on it. Dr. Galek can be contacted at kgalek@HealthCareChaplaincy.org

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