An investigation of indirect effects of personality features on anorexia nervosa severity through interoceptive dysfunction in individuals with lifetime anorexia nervosa diagnoses
© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Objective: This study examined a hypothesized pathway by which interoceptive dysfunction accounted for associations between personality features (harm avoidance, self-directedness, and perfectionism) and anorexia nervosa (AN) severity (indicated by drive for thinness, eating disorder-related preoccupations and rituals, and body mass index). Method: The study sample (n = 270, mean age = 28.47, 95.2% female, 98% White/Caucasian) consisted of probands and biological relatives who met DSM-IV criteria for lifetime diagnoses of AN (omitting criterion D, amenorrhea) drawn from the Price Foundation Anorexia Nervosa Affected Relative Pairs Study (AN-ARP). Participants completed measures assessing personality, interoceptive dysfunction, and eating pathology. Results: Associations between personality features of low self-directedness and high perfectionism and indicators of AN severity (drive for thinness and eating disorder-related preoccupations and rituals) were significant, as were the hypothesized indirect pathways through interoceptive dysfunction. Neither harm avoidance nor body mass index was significantly related to other study variables, and the proposed indirect pathways involving these variables were not significant. Discussion: Findings suggest that certain personality features may relate to AN severity, in part, through their associations with interoceptive dysfunction. Future research should examine prospective associations and the value of interventions targeting interoceptive dysfunction for interrupting the link between personality and AN severity.
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