Objective: Evidence suggests that eating disorder subtypes reflecting under-controlled, over-controlled, and low psychopathology personality traits constitute reliable phenotypes that differentiate treatment response. This study is the first to use statistical analyses to identify these subtypes within treatment-seeking individuals with bulimia nervosa (BN) and to use these statistically derived clusters to predict clinical outcomes. Methods: Using variables from the Dimensional Assessment of Personality Pathology-Basic Questionnaire, K-means cluster analyses identified under-controlled, over-controlled, and low psychopathology subtypes within BN patients (n = 80) enrolled in a treatment trial. Generalized linear models examined the impact of personality subtypes on Eating Disorder Examination global score, binge eating frequency, and purging frequency cross-sectionally at baseline and longitudinally at end of treatment (EOT) and follow-up. In the longitudinal models, secondary analyses were conducted to examine personality subtype as a potential moderator of response to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy-Enhanced (CBT-E) or Integrative Cognitive-Affective Therapy for BN (ICAT-BN). Results: There were no baseline clinical differences between groups. In the longitudinal models, personality subtype predicted binge eating (p = 0.03) and purging (p = 0.01) frequency at EOT and binge eating frequency at follow-up (p = 0.045). The over-controlled group demonstrated the best outcomes on these variables. In secondary analyses, there was a treatment by subtype interaction for purging at follow-up (p = 0.04), which indicated a superiority of CBT-E over ICAT-BN for reducing purging among the over-controlled group. Discussion: Empirically derived personality subtyping appears to be a valid classification system with potential to guide eating disorder treatment decisions.
- affect regulation
- bulimia nervosa