Associations between emotion regulation difficulties, eating disorder symptoms, non-suicidal self-injury, and suicide attempts in a heterogeneous eating disorder sample

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Background This study examined the associations between specific dimensions of emotion dysregulation and eating disorder (ED) symptoms and behaviors, non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), and suicide attempts in a heterogeneous ED sample. Methods Participants (N = 110) completed the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS), the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q), and self-reported the presence of lifetime NSSI and a lifetime suicide attempt. Results The EDE-Q global score, a primarily cognitive measure of ED symptoms, was significantly positively correlated with DERS strategies, clarity, and awareness subscale scores and DERS total score (ps < 0.01). Only the strategies subscale was uniquely positively associated with EDE-Q global score in a multivariate regression analysis. There was no association between the frequency of binge eating or frequency of driven exercise and any of the DERS subscale scores or total score (ps > 0.01). Frequency of purging was significantly, positively associated with DERS impulse subscale score and total score (p < 0.01). None of the DERS subscale scores were significantly different between those with and without NSSI or between those with and without a lifetime suicide attempt (ps > 0.01). Conclusions Findings indicate that in a heterogeneous ED sample, emotion regulation deficits are more strongly associated with cognitively-oriented symptoms of EDs than behavioral symptoms such as a binge eating, purging, driven exercise, NSSI, or suicide attempts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-150
Number of pages8
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


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