Thibault I, Pascuzzo K, Pesant C, Bégin C, Bédard A, Di Meglio G, Meilleur D, Taddeo D, Gingras N. (2022). Anorexia nervosa in adolescence: a comprehensive study of multidimensional factors associated with symptom severity one year later. Child Psychiatry & Human Development.
Objective: The overarching goal of this study was to examine the unique contribution of psychological, familial, and friendship factors in explaining anorexia nervosa (AN) symptom severity one year following diagnosis among a sample of adolescent girls. A second objective was to determine whether friendship factors mediated the association between psychological and/or familial factors and AN symptom severity.
Method: This study included 143 adolescent girls under the age of 18 diagnosed with AN (M = 14.84, SD = 1.31). Participants were recruited from specialized eating disorder treatment programs. At admission (T1), participants completed a set of self-report questionnaires measuring psychological, familial, and friendship factors. AN symptom severity was assessed one year later (T2).
Results: Results of hierarchical regression analysis revealed that greater general psychological maladjustment at T1 (b = .26; se = .03; p = .00) was associated with greater AN symptom severity at T2. Greater alienation from friends at T1 (b = 1.20, se = .53, p = .03) also predicted greater AN symptom severity at T2, above and beyond the inuence of adolescent girls’ general psychological maladjustment. Finally, the mediating role of alienation from friends in the association between general psychological maladjustment at T1 and AN symptom severity at T2 was also identied.
Discussion: AN is a multidimensional disorder with a prognosis that involves both psychological and social factors. The results stemming from the present study shed light on the role of peer as a mechanism through which general psychological maladjustment is linked to AN symptom severity one year following diagnosis.