Initial test of an emotional avoidance model of restriction in anorexia nervosa using ecological momentary assessment

Ann F. Haynos, Ross D. Crosby, Scott G. Engel, Jason M. Lavender, Stephen A. Wonderlich, James E. Mitchell, Carol B. Peterson, Scott J. Crow, Daniel Le Grange

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

It has been hypothesized that restrictive eating allows individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) to avoid contact with negative emotions; however, this presumption has not been directly tested. In this study, we conducted an initial investigation examining whether restrictive eating serves an emotional avoidance function among individuals with AN. Females with AN (n=118) reported on negative and positive affect, anxiety/tension, and eating behaviors at multiple time points daily over a 2-week period using ecological momentary assessment methodology. Affective patterns were compared using generalized estimating equation models between days in which participants reported either: (1) relatively high restriction (without binge eating); (2) relatively low restriction (without binge eating); (3) binge eating; or (4) no restriction or binge eating. We hypothesized that, if restriction were functioning to avoid negative affect, average negative affect and anxiety/tension, as well as average negative and positive affect lability, would be lower and average positive affect would be higher on days characterized by high levels of restriction compared to other eating patterns. Contrary to hypotheses: (1) average negative affect, anxiety/tension, and positive affect were not significantly different between days characterized by high restriction and those characterized by low or no restriction; (2) Negative affect and anxiety/tension lability were higher on days characterized by high restriction compared to no restriction or binge eating days; (3) Anxiety/tension lability was higher on days characterized by high versus low levels of restriction. This patterns of findings does not support an avoidance model of restrictive eating for individuals with AN.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-139
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Volume68
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

Keywords

  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Avoidance
  • Emotion regulation
  • Restrictive eating

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