Denial and minimization in adolescents with anorexia nervosa




This study examines symptoms of denial in 86 adolescents with anorexia nervosa (AN) using a dataset from a family therapy trial.


Using the Restraint subscale of the Eating Disorders Examination (EDE) at baseline, participants were divided into deniers (n = 15), minimizers (n = 21), and admitters (n = 50). These subgroups were compared with analysis of variance (ANOVA; Tukey post-hoc analysis) on a variety of assessment and treatment variables at baseline and at 12 months.


Although body mass index (BMI) was not significantly different, all subscale scores of the EDE were lower in the deniers compared with the admitters (p = .0001 for all subscales) at baseline. Minimizers also scored lower than admitters on 3 of 4 subscales (p = .0001 for the Restraint, Weight Concern, and Shape Concern subscales of the EDE). At baseline and at 12 months, there were no significant differences on the Youth Self-Report or the Child Behavior Checklist. At 12 months, the only significant difference was in the Restraint subscale, with deniers still scoring lower than admitters (p = .015).


Denial and minimization appear to be common processes occurring in adolescents with AN and present difficulties in assessment. © 2006 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2006