Comparing the clinical presentation of eating disorder patients with and without trauma history and/or comorbid PTSD

Adela Scharff, Shelby N. Ortiz, Lauren N. Forrest, April R. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This study examined whether clinical characteristics among patients presenting to residential eating disorder (ED) treatment differed according to patients’ trauma history and current PTSD diagnostic status. Participants (699 girls and women) completed surveys at treatment onset. One-way analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) tests assessed cross-sectional differences between three groups of patients: those reporting no trauma history (No Trauma, n = 185), those with trauma history but without PTSD (Trauma, n = 263), and those with current PTSD (PTSD, n = 251). Relative to the No Trauma group, the combined Trauma and PTSD groups reported greater ED symptoms, anxiety and depressive symptoms, experiential avoidance, anxiety sensitivity, and lower mindfulness. The PTSD group reported greater ED, anxiety, and depressive symptoms, greater anxiety sensitivity, and lower mindfulness, relative to the Trauma group. In sum, ED patients with any history of trauma experienced more symptoms and other psychopathology relative to patients who did not report trauma history. Among patients reporting trauma, those with current PTSD experienced even greater symptom severity. Interventions focused on improving emotional functioning could be especially beneficial for ED patients with trauma histories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-102
Number of pages15
JournalEating Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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