Family functioning in anorexia nervosa differs by subtype




This study investigated family functioning in adolescents with the restricting and bulimic type of anorexia nervosa (AN) and in healthy controls.


Fifty-one parents and their children (17 with AN and 34 healthy adolescents) completed the Family Assessment Measure, a self-report instrument that provides information about the functional strengths and weaknesses of the family and each family member.


AN patients with the bulimic subtype and their mothers were significantly more likely to perceive family functioning as impaired than were healthy adolescents or restricting AN patients. Restricting AN patients and their families did not differ from healthy control families.


The results suggest that the problems faced by bulimic patients color their and their parents' view of each other and the family. Symptomatic and personality differences between the subtypes of AN with better control, fewer symptoms, and denial of conflict characterizing restricting AN families may be reflected in family interaction styles. © 2001 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 30: 338–342, 2001.