Sexual Trauma Uniquely Associated with Eating Disorders: A Replication Study

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Objective: Extensive research supports the contention that trauma exposure is a nonspecific risk factor for the development of eating disorders (EDs). Limited research has investigated the relative association of diverse types of traumatic events with EDs in the same statistical model. In a recent exception, Breland et al. (2018) found that only sexual trauma predicted ED pathology among female veterans when both sexual trauma and combat exposure were examined simultaneously, even though combat exposure alone had been previously identified as an ED risk factor. Given the current replication crisis in psychology, it is important to investigate if this finding replicates in different populations. This study investigated whether results from Breland et al. (2018) would (a) replicate in a distinct population (i.e., participants living with food insecurity) and (b) hold when 3 additional traumatic events were included in the statistical model. Method: We hypothesized that self-reported sexual trauma would be uniquely associated with ED pathology as compared to combat exposure, wreck/crash/accident, serious body-related accident, and life-threatening illness or injury. Results: Using a cross-sectional logistic regression model, sexual trauma was the only independent predictor of EDs in the model, thus replicating the findings of Breland et al. (2018) in a different population. Conclusion: Findings highlight the importance of (a) investigating multiple traumatic events in the same statistical models and (b) careful screening of traumatic events in patients presenting with EDs.


PMID: 32940521




American Psychological Association

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Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy