Date on Senior Honors Thesis


Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis

Degree Name



Psychological and Brain Sciences

Degree Program

College of Arts and Sciences

Author's Keywords

Eating Disorders; Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Quality of Life


Background: Eating disorders (EDs) are life threatening psychological disorders characterized by obsessions related to food, weight, and exercise. The presence of an eating disorders has been linked to poorer quality of life (QOL) and clinical impairment. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a psychiatric disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts and ritualistic behaviors. EDs and OCD have similar symptom structure as well as similar independent relationships to QOL. The present study aimed to validate these relationships and extend the findings into a more fine-grained symptom analysis of the relationship between EDs, OCD and QOL. Method: Participants (N = 109) were those with an ED who had discharged from a higher level of care in the past four months. Participants completed a semi-structured phone interview followed by a series of baseline questionnaires. The relationships between EDs, OCD, and QOL were examined using regression analyses. We also conducted a network analysis to examine relationships between specific ED and OCD symptoms. Results: We found that higher ED symptomology was significantly related to lower QOL. In a more symptom-focused network analysis, we found that binge eating and hoarding were significant predictors of poorer QOL. In a network analysis, we worked to understand the within and between disorder connections between EDs and OCD, finding that obsessing, checking, and restricting were most central to the network. Furthermore, we found that binge eating and hoarding were bridge symptoms between disorders. Discussion: The current study identifies potential key symptoms in the relationship between OCD, EDs, and QOL. Future research should work to understand the relationship between OCD and QOL in a more targeted sample and further analyze potential illness pathways between OCD and EDs.

Lay Summary

Eating disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder are psychiatric disorders which commonly co-occur. Both disorders are independently associated with poorer quality of life. The current study worked to understand the relationship between eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, and quality of life by examining specific symptoms of eating disorders and of obsessive compulsive disorder and how each system contributes to quality of life. The current study also analyzed these symptoms and their relationship to the corresponding disorder (i.e., eating disorder versus obsessive compulsive disorder). The authors suggest that binge eating and hoarding were the two symptoms linked to poorer quality of life. Furthermore, these two symptoms were also symptoms connecting the two disorders. Checking, obsessing, and restricting were three symptoms most important to the overall relationships between eating disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder symptoms. Future research is needed to validate these findings and to understand why certain symptoms, more than others, relate to quality of life.

Included in

Psychology Commons