Physiologic Screening Test for Eating Disorders/Disordered Eating Among Female Collegiate Athletes

J Athl Train. 2003 Dec;38(4):286-297.


OBJECTIVE: To develop and evaluate a physiologic screening test specifically designed for collegiate female athletes engaged in athletic competition or highly athletic performances in order to detect eating disorders/disordered eating. No such physiologically based test currently exists. METHODS: Subjects included 148 (84.5%) of 175 volunteer, National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I (n = 92), club (n = 15), and dance team (n = 41) athletes 18 to 25 years old who attended a large, Midwestern university. Participants completed 4 tests: 2 normed for the general population (Eating Disorders Inventory-2 and Bulimia Test-Revised); a new physiologic test, developed and pilot tested by the investigators, called the Physiologic Screening Test; and the Eating Disorder Exam 12.0D, a structured, validated, diagnostic interview used for criterion validity. RESULTS: The 18-item Physiologic Screening Test produced the highest sensitivity (87%) and specificity (78%) and was superior to the Eating Disorders Inventory-2 (sensitivity = 62%, specificity = 74%) and Bulimia Test-Revised (sensitivity = 27%, specificity = 99%). A substantial number (n = 51, 35%) of athletes were classified as eating disordered/disordered eating. CONCLUSIONS: The Physiologic Screening Test should be considered for screening athletes for eating disorders/disordered eating. The Physiologic Screening Test seems to be a viable alternative to existing tests because it is specifically designed for female athletes, it is brief (4 measurements and 14 items), and validity is enhanced and response bias is lessened because the purpose is less obvious, especially when included as part of a mandatory preparticipation examination.