DSM-5 full syndrome, other specified, and unspecified eating disorders in Australian adolescents

prevalence and clinical significance

Deborah Mitchison*, Jonathan Mond, Kay Bussey, Scott Griffiths, Nora Trompeter, Alexandra Lonergan, Kathleen M. Pike, Stuart B. Murray, Phillipa Hay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


BackgroundLittle information is available on the prevalence of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)-5 eating disorders in adolescence, and eating disorders remain unique in the DSM for not systematically including a criterion for clinical significance. This study aimed to provide the first prevalence report of the full suite of DSM-5 eating disorders in adolescence, and to examine the impact of applying a criterion for clinical significance.MethodsIn total, 5191 (participation rate: 70%) Australian adolescents completed a survey measuring 1-month prevalence of eating disorder symptoms for all criterial, 'other specified' and unspecified eating disorders, as well as health-related quality of life and psychological distress.ResultsThe point prevalence of any eating disorder was 22.2% (12.8% in boys, 32.9% in girls), and 'other specified' disorders (11.2%) were more common than full criterial disorders (6.2%). Probable bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder, but not anorexia nervosa (AN), were more likely to be experienced by older adolescents. Most disorders were associated with an increased odds for being at a higher weight. The prevalence of eating disorders was reduced by 40% (to 13.6%) when a criterion for clinical significance was applied.ConclusionsEating disorders, particularly 'other specified' syndromes, are common in adolescence, and are experienced across age, weight, socioeconomic and migrant status. The merit of adding a criterion for clinical significance to the eating disorders, similar to other DSM-5 disorders, warrants consideration. At the least, screening tools should measure distress and impairment associated with eating disorder symptoms in order to capture adolescents in greatest need for intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)981-990
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number6
Early online date2 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • adolescence
  • diagnosis
  • eating disorders
  • prevalence

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