Network Analysis as an Alternative Approach to Conceptualizing Eating Disorders: Implications for Research and Treatment
Purpose of Review
Network analysis (NA) is an emerging methodology that allows for the characterization of maintaining symptoms and pathways among symptoms of mental disorders. The current paper provides background on NA and discusses the relevance of the network approach for the conceptualization of eating disorders (ED).
We review the burgeoning literature conceptualizing ED from a network approach. Overall, these papers find that fear of weight gain and overvaluation of weight and shape are core symptoms in networks of ED pathology. We integrate literature on new advances in network methodology (e.g., within-person NA) and the clinical relevance of these approaches for the ED field (e.g., personalized ED treatment). We also provide several considerations (e.g., replicability, sample size, and node (item) selection) for researchers who are interested in using network science and recommend several emerging “best practices” for NA.
Finally, we highlight novel applications of NA, specifically the ability to identify within-person maintaining symptoms, and the potential treatment implications for ED that network methods may hold. Overall, NA is a new methodology that holds significant promise for new treatment development in the ED field.
KeywordsEating disorders Network analysis Fear of weight gain Anorexia nervosa Bulimia nervosa
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Cheri A. Levinson, Irina A. Vanzhula, Leigh C. Brosof, and Kelsie Forbush declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
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