An empirical analysis of eating disorders and anxiety disorders publications (1980–2000)—part I: Research methods

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Abstract

Objective

The current study compared the eating disorder and anxiety disorder literature in terms of research design and methodologic features in 1980, 1990, and 2000.

Method

Computer literature searches were conducted using PubMed and PsychInfo databases to identify relevant eating disorder and anxiety disorder articles published at each of the three time points. A total of 456 articles were randomly selected, including 228 articles from the eating disorder literature and the anxiety disorder literature. Within each specific literature, one third (76) of the articles were selected from each of the three time points (1980, 1990, 2000). Two raters, from a team of eight trained raters, were randomly assigned to independently rate each article in terms of 75 separate methodologic features. Disagreements in ratings were resolved via consensus. Ratings were tabulated separately for eating disorders and anxiety disorders across the three time points.

Results

Although there were some differences between anxiety disorders and eating disorders, most of the variables did not substantially differ between these two fields. There was a consistent trend for both fields to show increases in more rigorous methodologies over time. However, both the eating disorder literature and the anxiety disorder literature were characterized by a pervasive absence of many recommended methodologic procedures across the past two decades.

Conclusion

Although the eating disorder literature and the anxiety disorder literature are increasingly characterized by improved reporting of rigorous methodologic procedures, there is still a pervasive absence of such procedures in both literatures, which limits the strength of inference in these studies. © 2005 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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