The effect of family functioning on concerns with body shape and weight in women with eating disorders

Christina Paul, Fordham University

Abstract

Overconcern with body shape and weight is considered to be a central factor in defining eating disorders. This study looked at the relationships among the degree of family dysfunction, history of childhood sexual abuse, and the degree of body image disturbance in an eating disorder population. We administered the Eating Disorders Inventory-Symptom Checklist (EDI-SC), the Body Shape Questionnaire (BSQ), the Family Assessment Device ( (FAD) modified to reflect the retrospective nature of the study), and parts of the Sexual Life Events Questionnaire (SLEQ).^ A total of 100 female participants with eating disorders were divided into two groups of 50. One group had a history of childhood sexual abuse and one group did not. There was no relationship found between the degree of family dysfunction and the degree of body image disturbance. There was no significant difference found in body image disturbance between the two groups. The only variable that showed a significant relationship to the degree of body image disturbance was the status of the patients' eating disorders (in remission or active). There was a relationship found between degree of family dysfunction and a history of childhood sexual abuse. When linear trend for severity of abuse was examined using parental incest or multiple perpetrators, the results were inconsistent.^ The findings of this study do not support the hypothesis that severe, persistent body image disturbance in an eating disorder population is related to either the degree of family dysfunction or a history of childhood sexual abuse. The findings do indicate a relationship between the degree of body image disturbance and the status of the eating disorder (in remission or active). The findings also indicate a relationship between childhood sexual abuse and poorer family functioning although the severity of the abuse is not necessarily related to the degree of family dysfunction. ^

Subject Area

Women's Studies|Psychology, Clinical|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Recommended Citation

Christina Paul, "The effect of family functioning on concerns with body shape and weight in women with eating disorders" (January 1, 1995). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI9530035.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9530035

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