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Preliminary identification of clinical cut-off of the vegetarian vegan eating disorder screener (V-EDS) in a community and self-reported clinical sample of vegetarians and vegans.

BACKGROUND: The vegetarian vegan eating disorder screener (V-EDS) is an 18-item self-report screening tool designed to assess the unique elements of eating disorder symptomology in vegetarians and vegans. Previous results have suggested strong initial psychometric properties in non-clinical community samples of vegetarians and vegans. The present study sought to identify a preliminary threshold cut-off score to discriminate eating disorder pathology in a self-reported clinical and community sample.

METHODS: This study involved secondary analysis using data collected in McLean et al. (Development and preliminary validation of a novel eating disorder screening tool for vegetarians and vegans: the V-EDS, 2023), comprising 599 non-clinical participants and 51 self-reported clinical participants. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was used to compute possible cut-off values for the V-EDS.

RESULTS: ROC analysis indicated good performance of the V-EDS (area under the curve = 0.87), with integration of the Youden index demonstrating a global score of ≥ 18 to be optimal in predicting clinical caseness with good sensitivity (0.804) and specificity (0.843).

CONCLUSIONS: The present study fills an important gap as the first to investigate an optimal V-EDS score to discriminate level of impairment from eating disorder pathology in a sample of vegetarian and vegan community and self-reported clinical participants. We extend the utility of the V-EDS in discovering good discrimination power in classifying clinical caseness with a cut-off score of 18 shown to optimise the trade-off between sensitivity and specificity. Future research should focus on expanding the psychometric properties of the V-EDS in larger and more diverse participant groups, including gender, age, cultural identity, and eating disorder history.

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