Variables influencing presenting symptoms of patients with eating disorders at psychiatric outpatient clinics

Mei Chih Meg Tseng, Kuan Yu Chen, Chin Hao Chang, Shih Cheng Liao, Hsi Chung Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Eating disorders (EDs) have been underdiagnosed in many clinical settings. This study investigates the influence of clinical characteristics on presenting symptoms of patients with EDs. Psychiatric outpatients, aged 18-45, were enrolled sequentially and received a two-phase survey for EDs in August 2010-January 2013. Their primary reasons for seeking psychiatric help were obtained at their first encounter with outpatient psychiatrists. Patients' clinical and demographic characteristics were compared according to presenting symptoms with or without eating/weight problems. Of 2140 patients, 348 (16.3%) were diagnosed with an ED (22.6% of women and 6.3% of men). The three most common reasons for seeking psychiatric help were eating/weight problems (46.0%), emotional problems (41.3%), and sleep disturbances (19.3%). The multivariate analyses suggest that when patients with EDs presented symptoms that were less related to eating/weight problems, they were significantly more likely to be those having diagnoses other than anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa and less severe degree of binge-eating. Further, patients with EDs who demonstrated more impulsive behaviors and poorer functioning were less likely to report their eating problems when visiting psychiatric clinics. Thus, ED should be assessed routinely in patients with complex psychopathology to facilitate comprehensive treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-344
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatry Research
Publication statusPublished - Apr 30 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical presentation
  • Eating disorders
  • Help-seeking behavior
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Psychiatric outpatients
  • SCOFF questionnaire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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