Lifetime substance abuse, family history of alcohol abuse/dependence and novelty seeking in eating disorders: comparison study of eating disorder subgroups

Isabel Krug, Andrea Poyastro Pinheiro, Cynthia Bulik, Susana Jiménez-Murcia, Roser Granero, Eva Penelo, Cristina Masuet, Zaida Agüera, Fernando Fernández-Aranda
Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 2009, 63 (1): 82-7

AIM: To assess lifetime substance abuse, family history of alcohol abuse/dependence, and novelty seeking in three different eating disorder groups (anorexia nervosa-restrictive; anorexia nervosa-binge eating/purging; anorexia nervosa to bulimia nervosa).

METHOD: A total sample of 371 eating disorder patients participated in the current study. Assessment measures included the prevalence of substance abuse and family history of alcohol abuse/dependence as well as the novelty-seeking subscale of the Temperament and Character Inventory-Revised.

RESULTS: Significant differences across groups were detected for lifetime substance abuse, with anorexia nervosa-restrictive individuals exhibiting a significant lower prevalence than the anorexia nervosa to bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa-binge eating/ purging patients (P < 0.01). For family history of alcohol abuse/dependence the same pattern was observed (P = 0.04). Novelty seeking was associated with substance abuse (P = 0.002), with the anorexia nervosa to bulimia nervosa group exhibiting significantly higher scores on the novelty-seeking scale than the other two groups (P < 0.001). But family history of alcohol abuse/dependence was not related to novelty seeking (P = 0.092).

CONCLUSION: Lifetime substance abuse appears to be more prevalent in anorexia nervosa patients with bulimic features. Higher novelty-seeking scores may be associated with diagnosis cross-over.

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