Eating issues (ED) such as anorexia (AN), bulimia, and binging/purging can lead to many physical and psychological problems. Long term ED can cause damage to the heart and other organs, and can even lead to death. Psychologically, people with ED often experience anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, isolation, guilt, shame, and even suicidal ideation. The introduction of the Work and Social Adjustment Scale (WSAS) brought to light certain domains of functioning that are directly impacted by psychological issues such as obsessions and compulsions, psychosis, and schizophrenia. But in the study on ED, there is little research demonstrating the efficacy of the WSAS. Because work and social realms are considered ripe areas in which to measure functionality and impairment, Kate Tchanturia of the Division of Psychological Medicine and the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College in London, decided to test the validity of the WSAS in assessing the consequences of ED and also the severity of symptoms in a sample of 160 adult women with and without ED. Her sample was comprised of 83 women without AN who represented control subjects (HC), and 77 women with AN. Tchanturia evaluated the women with the WSAS for levels of ED severity, depression, and anxiety.
She found that the women with anorexia had significant impairment across all measures on the WSAS. In particular, work and social functioning was drastically impaired when compared to the HC participants. Tchanturia also discovered that there was a direct relationship between impairment and severity of ED symptoms, as indicated by the WSAS. But, she added, “The greatest impairment in the AN group was reported in the realm of social leisure.” Based on these results, Tchanturia believes that the WSAS is a highly effective tool for assessing impairment in individuals with ED. Not only can this clinical tool identify certain areas of life that are impacted by ED, but the WSAS can also help clinicians ascertain symptom severity by way of domain impairment. Tchanturia hopes that these findings will provide support for the continued use of the WSAS in the diagnosis and treatment of ED.
Tchanturia, Kate, et al. (2013). Work and social adjustment in patients with anorexia nervosa. Comprehensive Psychiatry 54.1 (2013): 41-5. ProQuest. Web.
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