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The Relation Between Eating Disorder Symptoms and Impairment

Jenkins, Paul E. DClinPsychol*†; Rienecke, Renee D. PhD; Conley, Colleen S. PhD§; Meyer, Caroline PhD∥¶; Blissett, Jacqueline M. PhD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: June 2015 - Volume 203 - Issue 6 - p 452–458
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000301
Original Articles

Although a number of studies have looked at what factors might mediate the relationship between symptoms and quality of life (QoL) in a number of psychiatric disorders, little research has addressed this issue in eating disorders. In the current study, female undergraduates (N = 339) completed questionnaires assessing eating disorder symptoms, social support, coping, QoL, and psychosocial impairment. Perceived family support and levels of substance misuse as a way of coping were identified as mediators of the symptom-impairment relationship and, in addition, maladaptive coping also mediated the relationship with QoL. These results highlight the role of coping and social support in impairment resulting from eating disorder symptoms.

*School of Psychology, University of Southampton, Southampton; †School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK; ‡University of Michigan Comprehensive Eating Disorders Program, Department of Psychiatry, Ann Arbor, MI; §Department of Psychology, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL; ∥Institute of Digital Healthcare, Warwick Manufacturing Group, University of Warwick; and ¶Human Metabolism Research Unit, University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust, Coventry, UK.

The research was carried out with the support of the University of Southampton as part of the first author’s doctorate in clinical psychology.

Send reprint requests to Paul E. Jenkins, DClinPsychol, Cotswold House Eating Disorders Service, Warneford Hospital, Warneford Lane, Headington, Oxford OX3 7JX, UK. E-mail:

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