Eating psychopathology and psychosocial impairment in patients treated at a Singapore eating disorders treatment programme

Singapore Med J. 2018 Jan;59(1):33-38. doi: 10.11622/smedj.2017042. Epub 2017 May 15.


Introduction: There is limited data on the psychopathology of eating disorders in Singapore. This study: (a) described levels of eating psychopathology and psychosocial impairment among individuals diagnosed with eating disorders at our hospital; and (b) compared the related psychopathology of these patients.

Methods: Between 1 August 2010 and 31 July 2012, 257 individuals who met the diagnostic criteria for eating disorders completed the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q) and Clinical Impairment Assessment questionnaire (CIA).

Results: A majority of participants were women and of Chinese ethnicity. Diagnoses included anorexia nervosa (AN; 41.6%), bulimia nervosa (BN; 29.6%) and eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS; 28.8%). Mean age at presentation was 20.52 ± 7.14 years and mean body mass index was 17.84 ± 4.18 kg/m2. Individuals with AN were significantly younger at presentation and had shorter duration of untreated illness compared to those with BN and EDNOS. There were no significant differences in the CIA scores of the diagnostic groups. Participants with BN scored higher in all subscales of the EDE-Q than those with AN and EDNOS. Our sample scored lower in most subscales of EDE-Q when compared to treatment centres in Sweden, Australia and the United States.

Conclusion: Our clinical sample reported lower scores of psychopathology compared to overseas centres. This could be attributed to the higher percentages of BN and EDNOS diagnosed in overseas populations. Individuals with AN showed higher levels of psychopathology in our study compared to patients from the United States.

Keywords: Singapore; eating disorders; psychopathology; psychosocial impairment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa / physiopathology*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / therapy
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bulimia Nervosa / physiopathology*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / therapy
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Singapore
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult