Revisiting differences in individuals with bulimia nervosa with and without a history of anorexia nervosa: Eating pathology, personality, and maltreatment




Early research in subtyping bulimia nervosa (BN) by history of anorexia nervosa (AN) generally found more similarities than differences, but recent research and limitations of the early work suggest the need to revisit this approach. We examine differences between women with BN with and without a history of AN regarding eating pathology, personality, and childhood maltreatment.


Participants were women (aged 18–55) recruited from the community and eating disorder clinics who met DSM-IV criteria for BN; 37 had a history of AN and 101 did not. Participants completed questionnaires related to eating disorder pathology, multidimensional perfectionism, multidimensional impulsivity, and childhood maltreatment.


Women with BN and a history of AN had higher levels of dietary restraint and purging and lower body mass indices as well as higher levels of all forms of childhood neglect and abuse. In contrast, no group differences were found for perfectionism or impulsivity dimensions.


The group differences in terms of eating pathology and maltreatment have clinical implications. Further research is needed regarding if and how a history of AN among those with BN may reflect different etiological pathways and predict different outcomes. © 2008 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2008