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An examination of social group memberships in patients with eating disorders, carers, and healthy controls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Katie Rowlands, Daniel Willmott, Valentina Cardi, Danielle Clark Bryan, Tegan Cruwys, Janet Treasure

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-743
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Eating Disorders Review
Volume29
Issue number5
DOIs
Accepted/In press2021
PublishedSep 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: We thank the participants for their contributions to this study and the clinical centres for their assistance with participant recruitment. This paper presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its HTA (Health Technology Assessment Programme [Grant Reference Number ()]). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. We also acknowledge the support of the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network (NIHR CRN). Janet Treasure and Valentina Cardi acknowledge financial support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Specialist Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health award to the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. Valentina Cardi is supported by a grant from MIUR (Dipartimenti di Eccellenza DM 11/05/2017 n. 262) to the Department of General Psychology. Tegan Cruwys is supported by a NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellowship (#1173270). 14/68/09 Publisher Copyright: © 2021 The Authors. European Eating Disorders Review published by Eating Disorders Association and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

King's Authors

Abstract

This study compared the quantity and quality of social group memberships in patients with anorexia nervosa (n = 30), carers of patients with anorexia nervosa, unrelated to those patients (n = 30), and two cohorts of healthy controls (n = 60) age-matched to these focal groups. A secondary aim was to examine the associations between the quality of group relationships and severity of eating disorder and depression symptoms in patients; and depression symptoms in carers. Participants completed the online Social Identity Mapping Tool, which was used to measure the quantity and quality of social group memberships (e.g., number of social groups, number of groups rated ‘highly positive’). Participants also completed self-report measures of clinical symptoms. Compared to controls, patients reported fewer social groups when eating disorder-related groups were included, and significantly fewer social groups, and community groups in particular, when eating disorder-related groups were excluded. Number of positive groups was negatively associated with severity of eating disorder and depression symptoms in patients when eating disorder-related groups were excluded. Carers reported fewer groups overall, fewer family groups, and fewer positive and supportive groups compared to healthy controls. There was a weak association between the number of positive groups and the severity of depression symptoms in carers. Positive group memberships might play a protective role towards developing more severe eating disorder and depression symptoms.

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