Validity and reliability of the Anorectic Behavior Observation Scale for parents Vandereycken W. Validity and reliability of the Anorectic Behavior Observation Scale for parents. Acta Psychiatr Scand 1992: 85: 163-166.

W. Vandereycken

The Anorectic Behavior Observation Scale (ABOS) is a new self-reporting questionnaire developed to obtain information from parents about specific behaviors and attitudes in their children that might be symptomatic for anorexia or bulimia nervosa. Parents of 191 eating disorder patients and 174 female students completed the questionnaire. Using a cut-off score of 19, the ABOS has a sensitivity of 90.0% and a specificity of 89.6%. A comparison with a clinician’s evaluation of the patients’ behavior and, in the control group, with the subjects’ own judgement, revealed that parents generally give reliable information. The ABOS may be used as a valuable supplement to existing screening instruments for eating disorders.

In the assessment of eating disorders, self-reporting measures should ideally be complemented by observation from an outsider because of the patients’ tendency to deny, especially in anorectics (1). With respect to the early detection of anorexia nervosa in particular, we know from clinical experience that the parents’ description of their children’s eating behavior can yield more diagnostic clues than the subjects’ own story (2). We therefore decided to develop a questionnaire to be completed by parents (or spouse or partner): the Anorectic Behavior Observation Scale (ABOS), originally published in Vandereycken & Meermann (3). The questionnaire is partially based on a scale used in the U S National Institutes of Mental Health collaborative study on anorexia nervosa (we thank Dr. K.A. Halmi for procuring their Parents/Spouse Anorexic Behavior Scale). Some items have been taken from the Anorexic Behaviour Scale by Slade (4). We ended up with a total of 30 items to be answered by yes (2 points), “?” (1 point) or no (0 point); the higher the total score (maximum 60) the more pathological the result (see Appendix). The first data on the validity and reliability of this questionnaire are presented in this article. Material and methods

We analyzed the data of the ABOS (Dutch version, filled out by parents) in 191 eating disorder patients and 174 normal controls and summarized the data; for detailed information, see Hiemeleers (5).

Department of Psychology, University of Leuven, Leuven and Eating Disorders Unit, University Center Kortenberg, Belgium

Key words: eating disorder; parents; questionnaire: screening Walter Vandereycken, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, University Psychiatric Center, 8-3070 Kortenberg, Belgium Accepted for publication September 22. 1991

Patients

Only single women admitted to our Eating Disorders Unit with a DSM-111-R diagnosis of either anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa and still living at home were included. The mean age at admission was 24 k 5 years (range 12-37). At admission the father and/or mother were asked to complete the ABOS. Controls

In a careful selection of secondary schools and 1 college, 174 female students still living at home were willing to cooperate anonymously. They filled out a questionnaire about themselves (the self-report version of the Eating Disorder Evaluation Scale (EDES)) and asked their parents to complete the ABOS. Because of practical limitations in the selection procedure, the mean age of this sample is younger (P < 0.05): 18 t 6 years (range 12-24).

Results Sensitivity and specificity

The average scores differ (one-way t-test, P< 0.001) on practically all items and the total score; the statistical significance is P24) influences the response pattern of the parents. For factor I, a significant difference (P

Validity and reliability of the Anorectic Behavior Observation Scale for parents.

The Anorectic Behavior Observation Scale (ABOS) is a new self-reporting questionnaire developed to obtain information from parents about specific beha...
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