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Keywords:

  • eating disorders;
  • adolescents;
  • non-suicidal self-injury;
  • ecological momentary assessment

ABSTRACT

Objective

Adolescents who self-injure often engage in bingeing/purging (BP). Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) has potential to offer insight into the relationship between self-injury and BP. The aims of this study were to examine the frequency and context of BP using EMA in a sample of nonsuicidal self-injurious (NSSI) adolescents.

Method

Thirty adolescents with a history of NSSI responded to questions regarding self-destructive thoughts/behaviors using a palm-pilot device. Descriptive analyses compared thought/behavior contexts during reports of BP and NSSI thoughts/behaviors (occurring together vs. individually).

Results

BP thoughts were present in 22 (73%) participants, occurring on 32% of the person-days recorded; 59% of these participants actually engaged in BP behavior. Seventy-nine percent of BP thoughts co-occurred with other self-destructive thoughts. Adolescents were more often with friends/peers than alone or with family when having BP thoughts. Worry and pressure precipitated both BP and NSSI thoughts, but perceived criticism and feelings of rejection/hurt were associated more often with BP thoughts than with NSSI thoughts.

Discussion

BP thoughts and behaviors were common in this sample, often occurring with other self-destructive thoughts. Future EMA research is needed to address the function of BP symptoms, the contextual variables that increase risk for BP thoughts, and the factors that predict the transition of thoughts into behaviors in adolescents with and without self-injury. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2013; 46:684–689)