Non-suicidal self-injury in eating disordered patients: a test of a conceptual model

Psychiatry Res. 2011 Jun 30;188(1):102-8. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2010.12.023. Epub 2011 Jan 8.


A theoretical model explaining the high co-occurrence of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) in eating disordered populations as resulting from childhood traumatic experiences, low self-esteem, psychopathology, dissociation, and body dissatisfaction was previously proposed but not empirically tested. The current study empirically evaluated the fit of this proposed model within a sample of 422 young adult females (mean age=21.60; S.D.=6.27) consecutively admitted to an inpatient treatment unit for eating disorders. Participants completed a packet of questionnaires within a week of admission. Structural equation modeling procedures showed the model provided a good fit to the data, accounting for 15% of the variance in NSSI. Childhood trauma appears to have an indirect relationship to NSSI that is likely to be expressed via relationships to low self-esteem, psychopathology, body dissatisfaction, and dissociation. It appears that dissociation and body dissatisfaction may be particularly salient factors to consider in both understanding and treating NSSI within an eating disordered population.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Image
  • Child Abuse / psychology
  • Dissociative Disorders / etiology
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / complications*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Psychopathology
  • Self Concept
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / etiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult