Eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder: A dimensional approach to purported relations

J Anxiety Disord. 2008 Dec;22(8):1412-20. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2008.02.003. Epub 2008 Feb 29.


The purpose of this research was to investigate the specificity of purported relations between symptoms of eating disorders (ED) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Whereas most research has focused on diagnostic comorbidity or between-groups analyses, this study took a dimensional approach to investigate specific relations among symptoms of anorexia, bulimia, and OCD, as well as panic, depression, and general distress in a student sample (N=465). Results were that all symptoms showed significant zero-order correlations, including all ED-OCD pairings. After removing general distress variance, however, none of three OCD scales significantly predicted anorexia; only compulsive washing among OCD scales significantly predicted bulimia. Hierarchical multiple regression demonstrated that panic and depression out-performed OCD in predicting bulimia symptoms. Overall, symptoms of ED and OCD did not show unique relations at the level of core dimensions of each construct. A possible link between bulimia and compulsive washing is worth further study.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa / diagnosis
  • Anorexia Nervosa / epidemiology
  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology
  • Bulimia / diagnosis
  • Bulimia / epidemiology
  • Bulimia / psychology
  • Comorbidity
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / psychology
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires