Network-based validation of the psychometric questionnaire EDI-3 for the assessment of eating disorders

Sci Rep. 2023 Jan 28;13(1):1578. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-28743-5.


Assessing the validity of a psychometric test is fundamental to ensure a reliable interpretation of its outcomes. Few attempts have been made recently to complement classical approaches (e.g., factor models) with a novel technique based on network analysis. The objective of the current study is to carry out a network-based validation of the Eating Disorder Inventory 3 (EDI-3), a questionnaire designed for the assessment of eating disorders. Exploiting a reliable, open source sample of 1206 patients diagnosed with an eating disorder, we set up a robust validation process encompassing detection and handling of redundant EDI-3 items, estimation of the cross-sample psychometric network, resampling bootstrap procedure and computation of the median network of the replica samples. We then employed a community detection algorithm to identify the topological clusters, evaluated their coherence with the EDI-3 subscales and replicated the full validation analysis on the subpopulations corresponding to patients diagnosed with either anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Results of the network-based analysis, and particularly the topological community structures, provided support for almost all the composite scores of the EDI-3 and for 2 single subscales: Bulimia and Maturity Fear. A moderate instability of some dimensions led to the identification of a few multidimensional items that should be better located in the intersection of multiple psychological scales. We also found that, besides symptoms typically attributed to eating disorders, such as drive for thinness, also non-specific symptoms like low self-esteem and interoceptive deficits play a central role in both the cross-sample and the diagnosis-specific networks. Our work adds insights into the complex and multidimensional structure of EDI-3 by providing support to its network-based validity on both mixed and diagnosis-specific samples. Moreover, we replicated previous results that reinforce the transdiagnostic theory of eating disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Anorexia Nervosa* / psychology
  • Bulimia*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Psychometrics
  • Surveys and Questionnaires