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Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis of the Quality of Life of Individuals With Eating Disorders

Lauren O. Pollack, MA; Ashley M. McCune, MA; Konoy Mandal, MD; and Jennifer D. Lundgren, PhD

Published: April 30, 2015

Article Abstract

Objective: To examine the quality of a broad range of life domains using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies.

Method: Forty-eight individuals seeking inpatient treatment for an eating disorder (mean age = 29.8 years, female = 100%, white = 96.4%) from 2007 to 2009 completed the Quality of Life Inventory (QOLI) and the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire; a medical chart review confirmed diagnosis and treatment history. Patients diagnosed with anorexia nervosa (n = 24) and bulimia nervosa (n = 24) were compared. Body mass index (kg/m2), treatment history, number of comorbid psychiatric conditions, and eating disorder severity were used to predict quality of life. Finally, an inductive content analysis was performed on qualitative QOLI responses to contextualize the quantitative findings.

Results: Participants with anorexia nervosa, compared to those with bulimia nervosa, reported significantly less satisfaction with the domain of relatives (F1,46 = 5.35; P = .025); no other significant group differences were found. The only significant predictor of QOLI global score was number of previous treatments (F1,41 = 8.67; P = .005; R2 = 0.175). Content analysis of qualitative data yielded complementary findings to the quantitative data; interesting group differences emerged for satisfaction with health with implications for measuring quality of life domains.

Conclusions: Across several life domains, individuals seeking treatment for anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa appear to have similar levels of satisfaction, as evidenced by numeric and descriptive responses. Satisfaction with relatives, however, appears to differ between groups and suggests a specific target for intervention among patients in treatment for anorexia nervosa (eg, a family-based intervention such as the Maudsley approach). The use of quantitative and qualitative assessments, such as the QOLI, provides more clinically meaningful, contextualized information about quality of life than traditional self-report assessments alone.

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