, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 171-178

Assessing quality of life in eating disorder patients

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Abstract

Objective: To examine quality of life among subgroups of eating disorder patients. Method: Self-report questionnaires which included two quality of life measures were completed by 87 individuals referred for treatment to the Australian Capital Territory Eating Disorders Day Program. Health-related quality of life, as measured by the Medical Outcomes Study 12-item Short Form Mental Component Summary scale, and subjective quality of life, as measured by subscales of the World Health Organization Brief Quality of Life Assessment Scale (WHOQOL-BREF), were compared among individuals who received the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa purging subtype (n=15), anorexia nervosa restricting subtype (n=19), bulimia nervosa (n=40) and binge eating disorder (n=10), and among a general population sample of young adult women employed as a control group (n=495). Results: Eating disorder patients, when considered together, showed marked impairment in both health-related and subjective quality of life relative to normal control subjects. However, in both domains, restricting anorexia nervosa patients reported significantly better quality of life than other patient groups, after controlling for levels of general psychological distress. Scores on the Social Relationships subscale of the WHOQOL-BREF among individuals in this subgroup were similar to those of normal control subjects. Conclusions: Reliance on any one instrument is likely to be misleading in assessing the quality of life of eating disorder patients. Careful consideration needs to be given to the assessment of restricting anorexia nervosa patients in particular.