The use of multiple purging methods as an indicator of eating disorder severity

Int J Eat Disord. 2007 Sep;40(6):515-20. doi: 10.1002/eat.20416.


Objective: Previous studies indicate a distinction between those who use one versus multiple methods of purging, but these studies have not controlled for differences in purging frequency. The current study examined whether purging frequency or the use of multiple purging (MP) methods provides more information about eating disorder severity.

Method: Existing data were reanalyzed to examine associations between facets of purging and psychological measures among women with bulimia nervosa, purging disorder, and controls. Analyses compared the use of MP methods and purging frequency as indicators of eating pathology.

Results: MP methods demonstrated associations with greater eating disorder severity; purging frequency was associated with increased binge frequency and general psychopathology.

Conclusion: The presence of MP methods provides more information about eating disorder severity than purging frequency, which seems to be a marker of related psychopathology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bulimia Nervosa / epidemiology
  • Bulimia Nervosa / prevention & control
  • Bulimia Nervosa / psychology*
  • Cathartics / administration & dosage
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Diuretics / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vomiting


  • Cathartics
  • Diuretics