Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name





Psychology, Clinical.


Thomas, Cheryl,




Previous researchers have suggested that a continuum of eating disturbance exists, with chronic dieting at one end of the spectrum, and clinically diagnosed eating disorders at the other (e.g., Mintz & Betz, 1988). With this view has come the recognition that individuals with varying levels of eating pathology report considerable distress (e.g., Killen, 1996). In particular, it has been found that a high percentage of individuals who seek outpatient treatment for an eating problem suffer from a subclinical eating disorder (e.g., American Psychiatric Association, 2000). The present study examined whether or not three different groups along a hypothesized continuum of eating disturbance differed in their scores on the following measures: the Perceived Support Scale (Friends and Family) (Procidano & Heller, 1983), the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (Endler & Parker, 1990a, 1990b), and the Perceived Stress Scale (Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein, 1983). The non-eating-disordered group and the subclinical bulimic group each included 22 undergraduate women from the University of Windsor who were selected from a larger student sample (N = 331), based on their scores on the Bulimia Test-Revised (Thelen, Fanner, Wonderlich, & Smith, 1991), and the Eating Attitudes Test-26 (Garner, Olmsted, Bohr, & Garfinkel, 1982). The clinical bulimic group included 21 women with a diagnosis of bulimia nervosa, who were inpatients in the eating disorders program at Homewood Health Centre (Guelph, ON). Results of planned and post hoc comparisons indicated that emotion-oriented coping and perceived stress discriminated each group from one another, with the clinical bulimic group receiving the highest scores on both of these measures. Non-eating-disordered women were found to report greater use of task-oriented coping than either bulimic group. Non-eating-disordered women also reported greater use of social diversion and a higher level of perceived support from family than did clinical bulimic women. Clinical bulimic women reported less perceived support from friends than either of the remaining two groups. Subclinical bulimic women reported greater use of distraction than non-eating-disordered women. In addition, a multiple regression analysis was conducted for the entire student sample, and the following variables were found to predict level of disordered eating: emotion-oriented coping, distraction, social diversion, and perceived stress. Results are discussed within the context of the continuum hypothesis, and treatment recommendations geared toward subclinical bulimic women and clinical bulimic women are discussed.Dept. of Psychology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis2001 .H46. Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 62-10, Section: B, page: 4787. Adviser: Cheryl Thomas. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 2001.