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A Transdiagnostic Approach to Understanding Eating Disorders

Wade, Tracey D. PhD*; Bergin, Jacqueline L. BA Hons*; Martin, Nicholas G. PhD†; Gillespie, Nathan A. PhD†; Fairburn, Christopher G. DM‡

Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease: July 2006 - Volume 194 - Issue 7 - pp 510-517
doi: 10.1097/01.nmd.0000225067.42191.b0
Original Articles

Categorical models dominate the eating disorder field, but the tandem use of categorical and dimensional models has been proposed. A transdiagnostic dimensional model, number of lifetime eating disorder behaviors (LEDB), was examined with respect to (1) its relationship to a variety of indicators of the individual's functioning, (2) the degree to which it was influenced by genetic and environmental risk factors, and (3) exposure to specific environmental risk factors. Data from self-report and interview from 1002 female twins (mean age = 34.91 years, SD = 2.09) were examined. While 15.4% women met criteria for a lifetime eating disorder, 29% had at least one LEDB. The dimensional measure provided an indicator of associated functioning, and was influenced primarily by the nonshared environment. The number of LEDB was associated with the degree of impaired functioning. This impairment was associated with conflict between parents and criticism from parents when growing up.

*School of Psychology, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia; †Queensland Institute of Medical Research and Joint Genetics Program, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; and ‡Oxford University Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Supported by 2001 New Investigator Grant 160009 from the National Health and Medical Research Council to T. D. W. C. G. F. is supported by a Wellcome Principal Fellowship (046386). Administrative support for data collection was received from the Australian Twin Registry.

An earlier version of these results was presented at the December 2003 meeting of the Australasian Society for Psychiatric Research Conference in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the October 2004 meeting of the Eating Disorder Research Society in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Send reprint requests to Dr. Tracey Wade, School of Psychology, Flinders University, P. O. Box 2100, Adelaide, SA, 5001, Australia.

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.