Associations between negative affect and binge/purge behaviors in women with anorexia nervosa: Considering the role of negative urgency

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Comprehensive Psychiatry



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Objective Evidence implicates negative affect in the occurrence of binge/purge behaviors, although the extent to which theoretically relevant individual difference variables may impact this association remains unclear. Negative urgency, the dispositional tendency to engage in rash action when experiencing negative affect, is a unique facet of impulsivity that may play a key role. Moreover, it was hypothesized that women with anorexia nervosa (AN) who are higher on measures of negative urgency, relative to those lower on negative urgency, would exhibit: 1) greater binge eating and purging frequencies on high negative affect days, and 2) a greater change in negative affect prior to and following binge eating and purging episodes. Method Women with AN (n = 82) completed a self-report measure of negative urgency and a 2-week ecological momentary assessment protocol in which they recorded binge eating, purging, and negative affect ratings. Results Women with higher levels of negative urgency exhibited a greater frequency of binge eating and purging; however, in comparison to women low on negative urgency, they: 1) were more likely to binge eat on days corresponding with low-to-moderate negative affect (similar rates of binge eating were observed on high negative affect days), and 2) displayed substantially elevated levels of negative affect across time, and thus, smaller degrees of change in negative affect prior to and following binge eating and purging episodes. Discussion Negative urgency underlies individual differences in the daily experience of negative affect. Women with AN who are high on negative urgency may have an increased propensity for binge eating and purging via a relatively persistent and heightened state of negative emotions. © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.



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