Bridging of childhood obsessive-compulsive personality disorder traits and adult eating disorder symptoms: A network analysis approach

Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2022 Mar;30(2):110-123. doi: 10.1002/erv.2885. Epub 2022 Jan 21.


Objectives: Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCDP) traits are commonly associated with eating disorders (EDs), with evidence demonstrating that these traits predispose and exacerbate the ED illness course. However, limited research has examined the symptomatic interplay between ED and OCDP traits. We used network analysis to (1) identify the most central symptoms in a network comprised of OCPD traits retrospectively assessed in childhood and ED symptoms and (2) to identify symptoms which bridged OCPD traits and ED symptoms.

Methods: Participants were 320 females with an ED (anorexia nervosa n = 227, bulimia nervosa n = 93), who completed the semi-structured EATATE interview and the Eating Disorder Inventory-2. Expected influence (EI) was computed to determine each symptom's influence in the network. Bridge symptoms were identified by computing bridge EI.

Results: A regularised partial correlation network showed that ascetism, social insecurity, ineffectiveness, and impulsivity had the highest EI in the OCPD and ED network. With respect to bridging symptoms, interpersonal distrust emerged as a possible bridging node between the OCPD and ED trait/symptom clusters.

Discussion: These findings highlight the centrality of non-specific ED symptoms in the ED symptom network and suggest that interpersonal distrust may play a functional role through which childhood OCPD traits and ED symptoms are connected.

Keywords: anorexia; bulimia; network analysis; obsessive-compulsive personality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bulimia Nervosa*
  • Compulsive Personality Disorder / diagnosis
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder*
  • Retrospective Studies