Deakin University

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The relationship between individual symptom connectivity and global eating disorder symptom severity

journal contribution
posted on 2023-02-15, 00:46 authored by RH DuBois, RF Rodgers, Matthew Fuller-TyszkiewiczMatthew Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, M Shiyko, DL Franko
Background: The network approach has emerged as a useful framework for conceptualizing and investigating psychopathology, including eating disorders. Network connectivity, that is, the density of the connections among network nodes, has been somewhat neglected despite its theoretical relevance. As predicted by network theory, symptom connectivity would be distinct but related to symptom severity and may be a useful clinical indicator of psychopathology as stronger and/or more diffuse connections among symptoms offer more avenues for symptom activation. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between moment-by-moment individual-level symptom connectivity and global levels of symptom severity in the context of eating disorder symptoms and experiences. Methods: A sample of 58 female undergraduate college students, mean (SD) age = 20.5 (3.1) provided data on eating disorder symptoms eight times a day over the course of 10 days. Network analyses were used to calculate the eating disorder symptoms network connectivity for each participant. In addition, participants completed survey of self-report measures of eating disorder symptom severity and trait mindfulness and body image flexibility. Results: Analyses revealed a moderate, positive relationship between individual network connectivity and eating disorder symptom severity. In addition, symptom connectivity predicted unique variance of symptom severity even after controlling for other clinically-relevant variables. Conclusions: Individual-level network connectivity may be an important dimension of psychopathology and further work exploring the role of network connectivity is warranted. Public Significance: These findings suggest that symptom severity and the extent to which different eating disorder symptoms are connected are related but different dimensions. Investigating how these different dimensions play a role in eating disorder pathology could help to better understand and treat these disorders.



International Journal of Eating Disorders


United States







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal