Although previous research has supported the importance of anxiety as an etiological and maintenance factor for eating disorders, the specific mechanisms are not well understood. The role of anxiety in the context of eating behavior is especially unclear. The purpose of this study was to identify anxiety-eliciting eating situations and anxiety management strategies patients use to mitigate anxiety experienced in the context of eating as determined by diagnostic groups and symptom patterns. Fifty-three eating disorder outpatients were administered the Eating and Anxiety Questionnaire (EAQ) and the Eating Disorder Diagnostic Scale. Ratings indicated significant anxiety in most eating situations, whereas management strategies were more limited yet regularly employed. Factor analysis of the EAQ revealed a 6-factor solution for anxiety management strategies and a 4-factor solution for anxiety-eliciting situations. These results indicate patients with eating disorders report high levels of anxiety associated with eating behaviors but utilize limited yet consistent anxiety management strategies. Effective intervention strategies for managing eating-related anxiety should be incorporated into treatment and may need to be specified for different diagnostic subgroups.
- Anxiety management
- Eating and anxiety questionnaire
- Eating context
- Eating disorder