Trait anxiety and eating disorder (ED) symptomatology are often thought to be inextricably linked. Because anxiety often precedes an ED, predicts poor outcome, and persists even after recovery from an ED, it is important to examine whether certain factors have the ability to potentially attenuate anxiety's effect on eating pathology. In the current study, we examined two possible moderating factors: coping skills and social support. Participants were 96 females seen at one point for an ED at a Midwestern clinic, including 53 with a current ED diagnosis and 43 who no longer met criteria for an ED and who were at varying levels of recovery. Results revealed that emotion-oriented coping moderated the relation between anxiety and ED symptoms. Individuals who were high in trait anxiety and who reported low levels of emotion-oriented coping reported much lower levels of ED symptomatology than those with high trait anxiety and high emotion-oriented coping. Contrary to our hypotheses, task-oriented coping, avoidance-oriented coping, and perceived social support (total, family, friend, and special person) did not emerge as moderators of the relation between trait anxiety and eating pathology. Results provide growing support that factors that interact with anxiety can lessen anxiety's effect on eating pathology. Implications for treatment and future directions are discussed.
- Eating disorders
- Social support