The presence, predictive utility, and clinical significance of body dysmorphic symptoms in women with eating disorders

Deborah Mitchison*, Rocco Crino, Phillipa Hay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Both eating disorders (EDs) and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) are disorders of body image. This study aimed to assess the presence, predictive utility, and impact of clinical features commonly associated with BDD in women with EDs. Methods: Participants recruited from two non-clinical cohorts of women, symptomatic and asymptomatic of EDs, completed a survey on ED (EDE-Q) and BDD (BDDE-SR) psychopathology, psychological distress (K-10), and quality of life (SF-12). Results: A strong correlation was observed between the total BDDE-SR and the global EDE-Q scores (r = 0.79, p < 0.001). Multivariate analyses demonstrated that participants with probable EDs (n = 61) and BDD (n = 23) scored higher on 28 of the 30 BDDE-SR items compared to healthy controls (n = 173; all p < 0.05), indicating greater severity of BDD symptoms. BDD participants also scored higher than ED participants on 15 of the 30 BDDE-SR items (all p < 0.05). The remaining 15 items that ED and BDD participants scored similarly on (all p > 0.05) measured appearance checking, reassurance-seeking, camouflaging, comparison-making, and social avoidance. In addition to these behaviors, inspection of sensitivity (Se) and specificity (Sp) revealed that BDDE-SR items measuring preoccupation and dissatisfaction with appearance were most predictive of ED cases (Se and Sp > 0.60). Higher total BDDE-SR scores were associated with greater distress on the K-10 and poorer quality of life on the SF-12 (all p < 0.01). Conclusions: Clinical features central to the model of BDD are common in, predictive of, and associated with impairment in women with EDs. Practice implications are that these features be included in the assessment and treatment of EDs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Eating Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes

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Copyright the Author(s) 2013. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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