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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 6 (1993), Issue 3, Pages 123-127

Prevalence of Psychosomatic and Other Medical Illnesses in Anorexic and Bulimic Patients

A.-M. Ghadirian,1,2 F. Engelsmann,1 P. Leichner,1 and M. Marshall1

1Department of Psychiatry, McGill University and Douglas Hospital Centre and Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, Canada, USA
2Douglas Hospital, 6875 LaSalle Blvd, Verdun (Montreal), Quebec, Canada H4H 1 R3, USA

Copyright © 1993 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The occurrence of psychosomatic disorders (PSD) in patients with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa has rarely been investigated. We examined the prevalence of four psychosomatic disorders [peptic ulcer (PU), bronchial asthma (BA), neurodermatitis (ND), and rheumatoid arthritis (RA)] in patients consecutively admitted to an eating disorders (ED) program. Responses to a validated questionnaire and clinical file information were obtained from 152 patients, 60% of whom were bulimic and 40% were anorexic. The average age of the patients was 27.5 years and all but two patients were female. There was a higher life-time prevalence of the psychosomatic disorders among anorexics compared with bulimic patients, except for RA. PU and BA were reported by 10% of anorexics compared with 7.6% and 8.7%, respectively, by bulimic patients. RA was rare in both anorexic (1.6%) and bulimic patients (5.4%). The young age of the patients under study was to be considered limiting the life-time prevalence. The study contains epidemiological data on the prevalence of other medical illnesses in ED patients as well as the prevalence of PSD and eating disorders in their families.