Does ADHD Symptomatology Influence Treatment Outcome and Dropout Risk in Eating Disorders? A longitudinal Study

Giulia Testa, Isabel Baenas, Cristina Vintró-Alcaraz, Roser Granero, Zaida Agüera, Isabel Sánchez, Nadine Riesco, Susana Jiménez-Murcia, Fernando Fernández-Aranda

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and its symptoms have been shown to be present in patients with eating disorders (EDs) and are associated with increased psychopathology and more dysfunctional personality traits. This study aimed to assess if the presence of ADHD symptoms in patients with EDs affects their short and long-term therapy outcome. A total of 136 consecutively treated ED patients were considered in this study. Baseline pre-treatment evaluation included the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS v1.1) for ADHD symptoms and the assessment of eating symptomatology using the Eating Disorders Inventory (EDI-2). Treatment outcome was evaluated in terms of ED symptoms after cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dropout rate during treatment. Furthermore, we evaluated ED symptoms in treatment completers after a follow-up of 8 years on average. Path analyses assessed the potential mediational role of the EDI-2 total score in the relationship between ADHD and treatment outcome. Results showed that baseline symptoms of ADHD indirectly affected treatment outcome after CBT; the ASRS positive screening was related to higher eating symptomatology (standardized coefficient B = 0.41, p = 0.001, 95% CI: 0.26 to 0.55), and the presence of high ED levels contributed to the increase of dropout (B = 0.15, p = 0.041, 95% CI: 0.03 to 0.33) and a worse treatment outcome (B = 0.18, p = 0.041, 95% CI: 0.01 to 0.35). No direct effect was found between the ASRS positive screening with the risk of dropout (B = −0.08, p = 0.375) and worse treatment outcome (B = −0.07, p = 0.414). These results suggest the relevance of identifying specific treatment approaches for patients with ADHD symptoms and severe eating symptomatology.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2305
Pages (from-to)2305
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2020


  • ADHD
  • ASRS
  • attention-deficit
  • dropout
  • eating disorders
  • hyperactivity disorder
  • longitudinal
  • treatment outcome


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