Psychological well-being in out-patients with eating disorders: A controlled study




Positive functioning is widely neglected in research on eating disorders (EDs). The aim of this exploratory study was to assess psychological well-being (PWB) in out-patients with ED and in controls.


The authors assessed PWB in 245 out-patients with EDs [105 with bulimia nervosa (BN), 57 with anorexia nervosa (AN), and 83 with binge eating disorder (BED) who met DSM-IV-TR] and 60 controls. They tested whether PWB was associated with eating attitude test (EAT) scores and if such associations differed among ED groups while taking into account confounding variables.


Significant differences between groups in all PWB scales were found. While individuals with BN reported significantly lower scores in all PWB dimensions than healthy controls, patients with BED scored significantly lower than controls in PWB autonomy, environmental mastery, and self-acceptance scales. Patients with AN showed similar scores to controls in all PWB dimensions, except for positive relationships and self-acceptance. In all ED groups, most PWB dimensions resulted significantly and negatively associated with EAT scales, except for AN where oral control was found to positively correlate with a high sense of purpose in life. All results were maintained even after adjusting for possible confounding variables.


Patients with EDs reported an impairment in PWB. The paucity of PWB was not necessarily dependent on the presence of high levels of psychological distress and on the severity of the disorder. Such assessments may therefore yield a more comprehensive evaluation in this clinical population. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2014; 47:252–258)