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Observed connection and individuation: Relation to symptoms in families of adolescents with bulimia nervosa




To examine the relation between observed familial connection and individuation and adolescent bulimia nervosa (BN) symptoms.


As part of a treatment study for adolescent BN, adolescents (n = 54) and their parents participated in a videotaped semi-structured interview. Participants were rated on observed connection and individuation from these interviews using the Scale of Intergenerational Relationship Quality and two measures of connection.


There was a significant negative relation between individuation from parents and adolescent BN symptoms. Connection both to and from mothers and adolescents was negatively associated with BN symptoms. Increased eating concern was significantly associated with a greater likelihood of expressing a desire for more connection with the family.


Investigating and understanding family factors present at the time of adolescent BN may assist in providing treatment specific to the needs of the family to best aid the adolescent's recovery process. © 2012 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2012;45:891–899)