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Int J Eat Disord. 2010 Dec;43(8):737-42. doi: 10.1002/eat.20766.

Pain severity in eating disorders predicts longer inpatient hospitalization.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21287, USA.



This study examined pain intensity (PI) in eating disorders.


Comparisons between inpatients (N = 208) reporting moderate to severe pain (HiP) and no pain or mild pain (LoP) at admission were made, and the relationship between PI and treatment response was examined.


Patients with HiP were older, had a greater likelihood of having a bingeing and/or purging diagnosis, and reported greater body dissatisfaction, drive for thinness, depressive symptomatology, and neuroticism in comparison to those with LoP. They were also more likely to report widespread pain, to catastrophize about pain and to use praying and hoping to cope with pain. PI was associated with longer length of inpatient hospitalization, even after controlling for degree of underweight, depressive symptomatology, and neurotic personality features.


This is the first observation of a relationship between pain and health care utilization in eating disorders. The results imply that pain management is an important component of treatment.

© 2009 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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