Assesment of Social Support Dimensions in Patients with Eating Disorders

By Marcos, Yolanda Quiles; Cantero, Ma Carmen Terol | The Spanish Journal of Psychology, January 1, 2009 | Go to article overview

Assesment of Social Support Dimensions in Patients with Eating Disorders


Marcos, Yolanda Quiles, Cantero, Ma Carmen Terol, The Spanish Journal of Psychology


The aim of this study is to assess social support dimensions (providers, satisfaction and different support actions) in patients with eating disorders (ED), looking at diagnosis, socio-demographic and clinical characteristics, and self-concept. Method: A total of 98 female ED patients were recruited. The ages of participants ranged from 12 to 34 (Mean=20.8 years old, SD=5.61). Patients have a primary DSM-IV-R diagnosis of anorexia nervosa (61.2%), bulimia nervosa (27.6%) or an unspecified eating disorder (11.2%). Social support was assessed using the Escala de Apoyo Social Percibido (EASP). This scale measures social support providers, satisfaction and specific social support actions, which can be grouped into informational, emotional and practical support. Self-concept was assessed using the Cuestionario de Autoconcepto (AF-5). Results: The two most frequent providers for these patients were mothers (86.7%) and partners (73.1%). Patients' satisfaction with social support was high and they reported that they received informational support more frequently than emotional and practical support. Family self-concept showed positive relationships with social support dimensions. Conclusion: These results show the importance of the family network in connection with these disorders and its relation to self-concept.

Keywords: social support, self-concept, satisfaction, eating disorders

El objetivo del presente trabajo fue evaluar las dimensiones del apoyo social (proveedores, satisfacción y tipos de apoyo) en pacientes con un trastorno del comportamiento alimentario (TCA), atendiendo a su diagnóstico, variables sociodemográficas y clínicas, así como a su autoconcepto. Método: Participaron 98 mujeres diagnosticadas de un TCA. La media de edad fue 20.8 años (dt=5.61). Un 61.2% estaban diagnosticadas de anorexia nerviosa, un 27.6% de bulimia y un 11.2% de un TCA no especificado. Para la evaluación del apoyo social se utilizó la Escala de Apoyo Social Percibido (EASP) que evalúa proveedores de apoyo, satisfacción y acciones específicas de apoyo que se agrupan en los diferentes tipos de apoyo; informativo, emocional e instrumental. Para la evaluación del autoconcepto se usó el Cuestionario de Autoconcepto (AF-5). Resultados: Los análisis mostraron que los proveedores de apoyo más frecuentes para las pacientes con un TCA eran su madre (86.7%) y su pareja (73.1%). Presentaron una satisfacción elevada con el apoyo e informaron que recibían más apoyo informativo que instrumental y emocional. El autoconcepto familiar mostró relaciones positivas con las distintas dimensiones del apoyo. Conclusiones: Estos resultados manifiestan la importancia de la red familiar en estos trastornos, así como para el desarrollo de su autoconcepto.

Palabras clave: apoyo social, autoconcepto, satisfacción, trastornos alimentarios

Eating disorders have become a growing problem, especially among women (Herrero & Viña, 2004). The prevalence rates for these clinical symptoms oscillate between 0.2% and 0.8% within the general population, but among young people it reaches 1% to 5% for anorexia nervosa and from 2% to 3% for bulimia. In Spain, the prevalence rate is between 0.3% and 3% of the population, although this figure varies according to age, tests carried out, the place of assessment and the criteria used for diagnostic classification (Linde, 2005; Menéndez & Pedrera, 1999). Eighty percent of these disorders occur in adolescents and despite being associated in general with young people from a middle-high social class, it is argued that these disorders occur equally across the different social classes (Bueno, Velilla, Sarría, Guillén, & Jiménez, 1999; Morandé, 1998).

Due to the fact that these disorders are frequently of a chronic nature, it is not surprising to observe that other psychological and clinical problems often coexist with them. Generally, they are accompanied by affective, anxiety, substance abuse and personality disorders (del Rio, Torres, & Borda, 2002; Echeburúa & Marañón, 2001; Ruiz-Lázaro et al. …

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