Prevalence and characteristics of compulsive buying in college students

Arit Harvanko, Katherine Lust, Brian L. Odlaug, Liana R.N. Schreiber, Katherine Derbyshire, Gary Christenson, Jon E. Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Compulsive buying (CB) is a potentially devastating problem involving repetitive urges to shop and uncontrolled spending behaviors. Prevalence of CB in the general population has been estimated at 5.8%. This epidemiological study aims to better understand the prevalence and characteristics of college students who meet criteria for CB. During the spring of 2011, an online survey examining CB (using a clinically validated screening instrument, the Minnesota Impulse Disorders Interview), stress and mood states, psychiatric comorbidity, and psychosocial functioning was emailed to 2108 University students. Overall survey response rate was 35.1% (n=2108). Our data indicated that 3.6% (n=67) of college students surveyed met criteria for CB with significantly more women affected (4.4%, n=48) than men (2.5%, n=19). Relative to students not meeting criteria for CB, college students who met criteria for CB endorsed significantly greater psychiatric comorbidity, lower grade point averages, increased stress, and poorer physical health. Presence of CB is likely associated with a variety of problems in college students. These data may warrant increased screening of CB in college students to establish early interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1079-1085
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 30 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Mr. Odlaug has received research funding from the Trichotillomania Learning Center, has consulted for Lundbeck Pharmaceuticals, and has received honoraria and royalties from Oxford University Press. Drs. Lust and Christenson report employment with Boynton Health Services. Dr. Grant has received research grant support from Psyadon, Forest, Roche, and Transcept Pharmaceuticals. He has also received royalties from American Psychiatric Publishing Inc, Oxford University Press, Norton, and McGraw Hill Publishers.

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by a Center for Excellence in Gambling Research grant by the National Center for Responsible Gaming, an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse ( 1RC1DA028279-01 ) to Dr. Grant, and internal funding from Boynton Health Services, University of Minnesota .

Copyright 2014 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Impulse control disorders
  • Oniomania
  • Prevalence


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