Eating Disorder Behaviors and Psychological Characteristics: A Comparison Between Athletes and Nonathletes in a Partial Hospitalization Program


  • Arianna Shimits University of Denver
  • William Reid University of Denver
  • Trent Petrie University of North Texas
  • Natasha Trujillo EDCare Denver
  • Tamara Pryor EDCare Denver



Keywords: assessment, athlete, behavior, eating disorder, sport, temperament


Although athletes and nonathletes have been compared across different measures of disordered

eating and psychological characteristics, such comparisons are very limited when both groups are seeking inpatient care. Thus, we compared collegiate athletes (n = 18) to a matched group of nonathletes (n = 18), all of whom were patents in a partial hospitalization program (PHP) for eating disorders (EDs). At admission, all patients completed the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) and Eating Disorder Inventory-3, and comparisons were made across subscales from these measures. Through a series of t-tests, we found that athlete and nonathletes did not differ on the three behavioral subscales from the EDI; however, they did differ significantly on six subscales assessing temperament or psychological characteristics (e.g., harm avoidance, perfectionism). Across all subscales, athletes scored in the healthier direction, with effect sizes being large. Our findings suggest that, although athletes are similar to nonathletes at admission in terms of behavioral ED indicates, they are healthier on a number of other characteristics that may assist them in successfully completing treatment.  Future research should evaluate the impact that demographic differences, cultural standards of sport, and athletic and gender identity have on the expression of ED pathology in athletes.

Keywords: assessment, athlete, behavior, eating disorder, sport, temperament


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