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Keywords:

  • anxiety;
  • co-morbidity;
  • depression;
  • eating disorders;
  • SCOFF;
  • screening

ABSTRACT

Background

Eating disorders are common but underdiagnosed illnesses. Help-seeking for co-occurring issues, such as anxiety and depression, are common.

Objectives

To identify the prevalence of eating problems, using the SCOFF, and eating disorders when screening positive on the SCOFF (i.e., ≥2), among patients seeking help for anxiety and depression at a community-based mental health service.

Method

Patients (N = 260) consecutively referred and assessed for anxiety and depression treatment were administered the SCOFF screening questionnaire and a semi-structured standardized diagnostic interview during routine intake.

Results

18.5% (48/260) scored ≥2 on the SCOFF, indicating eating problems. Of these, 41% (19/48) met criteria for an eating disorder. Thus, overall, 7.3% (19/260) of the sample met criteria for a DSM-IV eating disorder. Those scoring ≥2 on the SCOFF were more likely to: be female (p = 0.001), younger (p = 0.003), and have a history of self-harm (p < 0.001).

Discussion

This study confirms that eating disorders are a hidden phenomenon in general outpatient mental health. By using a standardized diagnostic interview to establish diagnosis rather than self- or staff-report, the study builds on limited previous findings. The naturalistic study setting shows that screening for eating disorders can be easily built into routine intake practice, and successfully identifies treatment need. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2014; 47:422–425)