Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master Of Arts In Clinical Psychology

Colleges & School

College Of Arts And Sciences

First Advisor

Gregory Jurenec, PhD

Library of Congress Subject Heading

Obsessive-compulsive disorder; Eating disorders; Eating disorders--Treatment


Relationships between eating disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) have been found in several studies (Garcia, Houy-Durand, Thibaut, & Dechelotte, 2009; Roberts, 2006). Commonalities that have been found include: personality traits and common neurobiological and genetic features (Garcia et al., 2009; Halmi, 2005). Many experts in the field suggest a continuum between eating disorders and obsessive compulsive disorders (Garcia et al., 2009). Given the strong interaction between OCD and eating disorders, it is reasonable to suppose that many people with an eating disorder may have OCD characteristics, but do not meet the criteria for an actual OCD diagnosis. Regardless, the degree to which a person has OCD characteristics may have an impact on the severity of the eating disorder and the effectiveness for treatment. If this were found, the treatment for the eating disorder might be more effective if it routinely addressed both the eating disorder and OCD in therapy in order to help the person as a whole. The aim of the present study was to explore the relationship and response to treatment between severity of eating disorders and the degree of OCD characteristics. It was hypothesized that the severity of eating disorder diagnosis and OCD characteristics would have a positive correlation and when treated simultaneously treatment outcomes would be more effective. Nine hundred and seventy two individuals diagnosed with anorexia, bulimia or eating disorder not otherwise specified (NOS) from Rogers Memorial Hospital Residential Eating Disorders Center were assessed for obsessive compulsive characteristics using archival data. All participants completed multiple self-report inventories within the first 48 to 72 hours of their admission and again prior to discharge. Of relevance to this study were the Maudsley Obsessional Compulsive Inventory (MOCI) and the Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire (EDE-Q). After conducting analysis, a positive correlation was found between eating disorders and the presence of obsessive compulsive characteristics on admission (r = .385, n = 724, p < .005) and discharge (r = .454, n = 600, p < .005). There was also a positive relationship between obsessive compulsive characteristics at admission and improvement in eating disorder symptomatology (r = .133, n= 507, p < .005). The relationship in pre-post eating disorder severity and obsessive compulsive symptom severity was also investigated and a positive correlation between the two variables, (r = .237, n = 476, p < .005) was found. A one way ANOVA that compared the 4 diagnostic groups on the MOCI at discharge was significant (F=3.10, p=.030) and post-hoc comparisons using the Tukey HSD test indicated differences between the mean score for bulimia nervosa (M = 8.03, SD = 5.80) and eating disorder NOS (M = 8.41, SD = 5.90). The comparison between anorexia restricting subtype and eating disorder NOS appeared to be approaching significance as well (p = 0.69). There may be several applications of the current findings. The current study is yet another illustration of the link between eating disorders and obsessive compulsive characteristics. This link has implications for treatment measures. Results of the study show that not only are obsessive compulsive characteristics elevated among many individuals with eating disorders, but that many of them should also be diagnosed with OCD due to the high elevations of obsessive compulsive characteristics. To ensure effective treatment among individuals diagnosed with an eating disorder, OCD should be assessed, so that these obsessive compulsive characteristics are not overlooked.


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