Category: Eating Disorders

Symposium

An Empirical Taxonomy of Reward Responding in a Mixed-Eating Disorder Sample

Sunday, November 19
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Sapphire 400, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: Eating Disorders | Statistics
Presentation Type: Symposium

Reward processing disturbances have been identified as potential mechanisms underlying numerous psychological disorders, including eating disorders (EDs). The research on reward responding in EDs is mixed, with some studies reporting over-responding and others reporting under-responding to various reward cues among individuals with an ED. These mixed findings may be attributable to heterogeneity in reward responding tendencies among individuals with EDs, which could contribute to different symptom profiles. To investigate this possibility, we conducted a latent profile analysis using data from a mixed ED sample (n = 104). Subscales of the Temperament and Character Inventory were used to categorize participants based on responsivity to short-term rewards (Novelty Seeking [NS] subscale), long-term rewards (Persistence [PS] subscale), and interpersonal rewards (Reward Dependence [RD] subscale). Generalized linear models compared the identified profiles on ED attitudes, behaviors, and impairment at baseline and, for subset (n = 39), at three-month follow-up. Two reward profiles were identified that spanned diagnostic groups: (1) a short-term reward group (high NS, low PS, moderate RD); and (b) a long-term reward group (low NS, high PS, moderate RD). At baseline, the short-term reward group was more likely to binge eat (p = .007) and purge (p = .023), and had greater mean purging frequency (p = .04), weight concerns (p = .045) and shape concerns (p = .012). The long-term reward group, on the other hand, was more likely to engage in driven exercise (p = .02) and had a lower mean BMI (p = .006). Controlling for baseline values and treatment, reward profile significantly predicted binge-eating frequency at follow-up (p = .008), with the short-term reward group engaging in nearly three times as much binge eating as the long-term reward group. These results indicate that, across ED diagnostic groups, categorization in terms of relative responsivity to short- versus long-term rewards contributes significantly to symptom expression cross-sectionally and longitudinally. These findings can inform treatment development and matching aimed at altering reward disturbances in EDs.  

Ann F. Haynos

University of Minnesota

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