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Keywords:

  • laxative misuse;
  • psychobehavioral profiles;
  • eating disorder

Abstract

Objective:

The current study investigated the prevalence of laxative misuse among adult outpatients with eating disorders, distinguished demographic and psychobehavioral profiles of laxative misusers, identified specific predictors of laxative misuse, and explored whether prevalence rates and psychobehavioral profiles differ across eating disorder diagnoses.

Method:

Data were collected for 201 consecutive patients. Laxative misusers and nonmisusers were compared on demographic variables, measures of eating-related and weight-related behaviors and cognitions, and general psychopathology.

Results:

Fifty-three (26.4%) patients had misused laxatives in the month before assessment. Laxative misusers scored significantly higher than nonmisusers on measures of anorexic behaviors and cognitions, restraint, and weight and shape concerns. They also displayed higher levels of depression and self-directed hostility. Laxative misuse was specifically predicted by anorexic behaviors and depression. Across diagnoses, proportions of misusers versus nonmisusers were similar.

Conclusion:

Laxative misuse remains prevalent among adult outpatients and is associated with increased severity of clinical presentation, regardless of the eating disorder diagnosis. © 2006 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2006.