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Thesis

Belief structures in anorexia nervosa and obsessive-compulsive disorder: A comparison and review of the literature

27 July 1994

Abstract

While cognitive-behavioral therapy has been found to be the treatment of choice for bulimia nervosa, research on treatment efficacy for anorexia nervosa has been hindered by practical and methodological difficulties. Current studies of comorbidity reveal lifetime prevalence rates of obsessive-compulsive disorder in patients with anorexia nervosa of about 25%. The literature suggests an overlap in the two diagnoses, on the basis of which some authors contend that anorexia nervosa is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Research investigating this proposed overlap has focused primarily on the presence of obsessive-compulsive symptoms in anorexic patients, but little attention has been given to the cognitive-behavioral management of these individuals. This thesis reviews cognitive-behavioral formulations of both anorexia nervosa and obsessive-compulsive disorder, focusing specifically on the belief structures thought to underlie each of these disorders. A comparison of beliefs in anorexic and obsessive-compulsive disorder patients suggests that, while these patients share similarities in the general themes of their beliefs, the specific content of beliefs and the motivations underlying them differ between the diagnostic groups.


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