Factors Associated with Eating Disorders in Women


Although factors associated with eating disorders (ED) have been studied, no comprehensive source of research findings was identified in this review. The purpose of this study was to identify and synthesize research findings of factors associated with ED in women published from 1992-2006. These findings may be useful to nurses, other professionals, families, and the public to facilitate the prevention, detection, treatment, and rehabilitation of women with EDs. The factors identified as most pertinent through this review were depression, sexual abuse, substance abuse, anxiety disorders, early pubertal onset and the personality traits of perfectionism and impulsivity. No factor was identified as causative for EDs, but sexual abuse and anxiety disorders often preceded the ED. Findings varied among ED subtypes, with sexual abuse and substance abuse more common with binge/purge behaviors and bulimic symptomology, while depression and anxiety disorders were more common with both anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Perfectionism was most common in anorexics; in one study it was identified independent of stress and persisted after recovery. Limitations noted in the research reviewed include using self-report questionnaires, some small samples, exclusion of some ED subtypes, and a predominant use of cross-sectional and clinical samples. Recommendations for further research included large epidemiological samples containing multiple ED subtypes and males, as well as longitudinal studies and methods to determine causal relationships among EDs and the associated factors identified. Implications for nursing education, practice, and policy development focus on screening for ED during physical examinations and interviews, posing questions to facilitate disclosure, addressing emotions elicited, and suggestions for routine monitoring of patients in clinical settings.


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Thesis Completion





Smith, Frances B.


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)


College of Nursing

Degree Program



Dissertations, Academic -- Health and Public Affairs; Health and Public Affairs -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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