Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Compr Psychiatry. 2008 Nov-Dec;49(6):551-60. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2008.04.002. Epub 2008 Jun 3.

A personality classification system for eating disorders: a longitudinal study.

Author information

  • 1Massachusetts General Hospital, 2 Longfellow Place, Suite 200, Boston, MA 02114, USA.



Studies of eating disorders (EDs) suggest that empirically derived personality subtypes may explain heterogeneity in ED samples that is not captured by the current diagnostic system. Longitudinal outcomes for personality subtypes have not been examined.


In this study, personality pathology was assessed by clinical interview in 213 individuals with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa at baseline. Interview data on EDs, comorbid diagnoses, global functioning, and treatment utilization were collected at baseline and at 6-month follow-up intervals over a median of 9 years.


Q-factor analysis of the participants based on personality items produced a 5-prototype system, including high-functioning, behaviorally dysregulated, emotionally dysregulated, avoidant-insecure, and obsessional-sensitive types. Dimensional prototype scores were associated with baseline functioning and longitudinal outcome. Avoidant-Insecure scores showed consistent associations with poor functioning and outcome, including failure to show ED improvement, poor global functioning after 5 years, and high treatment utilization after 5 years. Behavioral dysregulation was associated with poor baseline functioning but did not show strong associations with ED or global outcome when histories of major depression and substance use disorder were covaried. Emotional dysregulation and obsessional-sensitivity were not associated with negative outcomes. High-functioning prototype scores were consistently associated with positive outcomes.


Longitudinal results support the importance of personality subtypes to ED classification.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center