To explore gender differences on personality and clinical features in patients with eating disorders (ED) and a healthy control sample.
60 ED males and 60 ED females, consecutively admitted to our Hospital and diagnosed according to DSM-IV-R criteria, were matched for age and diagnosis. A comparison group of 120 non clinical people (60 males, 60 females) were also collected. Measures: TCI-R, SCL-90-R, EDI-2.
Female ED patients scored significantly higher than males on Drive for Thinness, Body Dissatisfaction, Interoceptive Awareness and total EDI (p < 0.002). However, these differences were not significant when compared with controls. ED women exhibited higher SCL-90-R Somatization, Interpersonal Sensitivity, Depression, Anxiety, Hostility, GSI, PSDI and PST scores (p<0.002). Regarding personality traits, high Harm Avoidance, Persistence, Cooperativeness (p<0.018) and low Self- Directedness (p=0.001) were associated with an ED diagnosis in males. Significant differences across ED subdiagnoses were also observed. Lifetime obesity was significantly associated with ED in males (p=0.008). However, when specific ED diagnosis was entered, the gender effect of obesity disappeared (p=0.081).
Although gender specific differences in clinical and psychopathological features across ED patients have been observed, there are important similarities in current ED features between ED males and females, suggesting that, in spite of having some gender-specific associated traits, EDs are not different with regard to gender. These data encourage our continued efforts toward using similar strategies to detect and treat EDs among men and women.