Eating disorders in graduate students: exploring the SCOFF questionnaire as a simple screening tool

J Am Coll Health. Sep-Oct 2005;54(2):103-7. doi: 10.3200/JACH.54.2.103-107.


The results of several studies have established the validity of the SCOFF questionnaire (a 5-question screening tool for eating disorders), but researchers need to explore further replicability using the US version in the graduate school population. In this study, the authors asked 335 graduate students attending the Northwestern student health clinic on the Chicago campus to complete a written survey anonymously. A total of 305 (91%) patients completed the survey. The sensitivity and specificity for the SCOFF was 53.3% and 93.2%, respectively. This produced a PPV (the proportion who tested positive on the screen and actually had an eating disorder) of 66.7% and an NPV (the proportion of those who tested negative on the screen and actually did not have an eating disorder) of 88.7%. More than 80% of respondents were dissatisfied with their shape and weight, with over one third having a moderate to severe body image disturbance. The SCOFF is an easy instrument to administer that health care providers can use to screen for eating disorders in the primary care setting.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chicago / epidemiology
  • Education, Graduate
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / instrumentation*
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results*
  • Students*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Universities*