The sociocommunicative deficit subgroup in anorexia nervosa: autism spectrum disorders and neurocognition in a community-based, longitudinal study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

BACKGROUND: A subgroup of persons with anorexia nervosa (AN) have been proposed to have sociocommunicative problems corresponding to autism spectrum disorders [ASDs, i.e. DSM-IV pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs): autistic disorder, Asperger's disorder, PDD not otherwise specified (NOS)]. Here, clinical problems, personality traits, cognitive test results and outcome are compared across 16 subjects (32%) with teenage-onset AN who meet or have met ASD criteria (AN+ASD), 34 ASD-negative AN subjects and matched controls from a longitudinal Swedish study including four waves of independent assessments from the teens to the early thirties.MethodThe fourth wave included the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID)-I and the SCID-II (cluster C, i.e. 'anxious' PDs) interviews, the Asperger Syndrome Diagnostic Interview, self-assessments by the Autism Spectrum Quotient and the Temperament and Character Inventory, neurocognitive tests by subscales from the Wechsler scales, continuous performance tests, Tower of London, and Happé's cartoons.
RESULTS: The ASD assessments had substantial inter-rater reliability over time (Cohen's κ between 0.70 and 0.80 with previous assessments), even if only six subjects had been assigned a diagnosis of an ASD in all four waves of the study, including retrospective assessments of pre-AN neurodevelopmental problems. The AN+ASD group had the highest prevalence of personality disorders and the lowest Morgan-Russell scores. The non-ASD AN group also differed significantly from controls on personality traits related to poor interpersonal functioning and on neurocognitive tests.
CONCLUSIONS: A subgroup of subjects with AN meet criteria for ASDs. They may represent the extreme of neurocognitive and personality problems to be found more generally in AN.

Details

Authors
  • Henrik Anckarsäter
  • Björn Hofvander
  • Eva Billstedt
  • Carina Gillberg
  • Christopher Gillberg
  • Elisabet Wentz
  • Maria Råstam
Organisations
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychiatry

Keywords

  • Anorexia nervosa, autism spectrum disorder, cognition, personality, social interaction
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1957-1967
JournalPsychological Medicine
Volume42
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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