October 22, 2020 at 4:02 pm

Forney Leads Long-Term Study of Purging Disorder

K. Jean Forney , portrait

Dr. K. Jean Forney

Dr. K. Jean Forney, assistant professor of Psychology at Ohio University, led a long-term follow-up of purging disorder, which is a little-known eating disorder characterized by recurrent purging behaviors, like self-induced vomiting, in the absence of binge eating.

Because purging disorder was named only 15 years ago, less is known about the prognosis of purging disorder relative to other eating disorders like anorexia nervosa or bulimic nervosa. The researchers set out to describe the long-term outcome of purging disorder and to examine predictors of outcome in order to inform treatment planning. In their study, they examined a group of women roughly a decade after they participated in a baseline study.

“Overall, women experienced clinically significant reductions in eating disorder symptoms,” Forney says. “However, only 30 percent met established criteria for a full recovery, and 58 percent of the women continued to suffer from an eating disorder about 10 years later.”

Overall, the women reported significant decreases in purging frequency, weight and shape concerns, and restraint over their eating.

“Despite decreases in eating pathology, these women had impaired quality of life—impaired in the physical, psychological, and social domains. This study tells us that purging disorder is a clinically significant eating disorder that requires treatment and further research,” Forney says.

The study also found that more severe weight and shape concerns at baseline were predictive of an eating disorder at follow-up.

Read the study, A naturalistic, long-term follow-up of purging disorder, in Psychological Medicine.


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