Patterns of expressed emotion in adolescent eating disorders

Renee Dawn Rienecke*, Leslie Sim, James Lock, Daniel Le Grange

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: This goal of this study was to understand the patterns of expressed emotions (EEs) in adolescent eating disorders. As such, this study compared EE among families of adolescents with anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), and a psychiatric control group, major depressive disorder (MDD). This study also examined the influence of family status (intact vs. nonintact) and the presence of siblings on EE. Methods: Two-hundred and fifteen adolescents (ages 12–19) and their families were recruited for this study including 121 adolescents with AN, 54 adolescents with BN, and 40 adolescents with MDD. Adolescents with at least one parent completed the Standardized Clinical Family Interview. Adolescents completed structured diagnostic interviews to assess eligibility for the study, as well as a standardized questionnaire to assess depression. Results: Analyses revealed that fathers showed higher levels of critical comments to adolescents with BN or MDD than those with AN, whereas mothers made more critical comments toward patients with BN. Mothers made the least number of positive remarks toward patients with MDD. In terms of the influence of family status, fathers from intact families showed more expressions of warmth and were less critical than fathers from nonintact families, whereas mothers from intact families were less critical but also made fewer positive remarks than mothers from nonintact families. The presence of siblings appeared to reduce mothers’ expression of warmth and emotional overinvolvement. Conclusions: Unique patterns of EE were found to characterize AN, BN, and MDD. Family status and the presence of siblings exert an influence on EE that should be taken into consideration in future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1407-1413
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Expressed emotion
  • adolescents
  • anorexia nervosa
  • bulimia nervosa
  • depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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