How Different Are Threshold and Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders? Comparing Severity and Treatment Outcome

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Frontiers in Psychology



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Background: Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED) are characterized by less frequent symptoms or symptoms that do not meet full criteria for another eating disorder. Despite its high prevalence, limited research has examined differences in severity and treatment outcome among patients with OSFED compared to threshold EDs [Anorexia Nervosa (AN), Bulimia Nervosa (BN), and Binge Eating Disorder (BED)]. The purpose of the current study was to examine differences in clinical presentation and treatment outcome between a heterogenous group of patients with OSFED or threshold EDs. Method: Patients with threshold EDs (AN = 42, BN = 50, BED = 14) or OSFED (n = 66) presenting for eating disorder treatment completed self-report questionnaires at intake and discharge to assess eating disorder symptoms, depression symptoms, impairment, and self-esteem. Results: At intake, OSFED patients showed lower eating concerns compared to patients with BN, but similar levels compared to AN and BED. The OSFED group showed higher restraint symptoms compared to BED, and similar restraint to AN and BN. Global symptoms as well as shape and weight concerns were similar between OSFED and threshold ED groups. There were no differences between diagnostic groups in self-esteem, depression scores, or symptom change from intake to discharge. Discussion: Our findings suggest that individuals with OSFED showed largely similar ED psychopathology and similar decreases in symptoms across treatment as individuals diagnosed with threshold EDs. Taken together, findings challenge the idea that OSFED is less severe and more resistant to treatment than threshold EDs.

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