Using the Autism-Spectrum Quotient to Measure Autistic Traits in Anorexia Nervosa: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

J Autism Dev Disord. 2016 Mar;46(3):964-77. doi: 10.1007/s10803-015-2641-0.


Interest in the link between Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Anorexia Nervosa (AN) has led to estimates of the prevalence of autistic traits in AN. This systematic review and meta-analysis assessed the use of the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ) or abbreviated version (AQ-10) to examine whether patients with AN have elevated levels of autistic traits. Seven studies were identified and subsequent meta-analysis indicated that those with AN appear to have significant difficulties of a manner characteristic of ASD, relative to controls. Whilst this analysis supports previous indications of higher prevalence of ASD in AN, the aetiology of these traits remains unclear. Studies using more robust clinical measures of ASD within AN are needed to confirm what self-report measures appear to show.

Keywords: Anorexia Nervosa; Autism; Autism-Spectrum Quotient; Female; Meta-analysis; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anorexia Nervosa / epidemiology*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology*
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / psychology
  • Comorbidity
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Self Report