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Laura K. Fewell, Riley Nickols, Amanda Schlitzer Tierney and Cheri A. Levinson

The current study tested if athlete patients differed from non-athlete patients in measures of eating disorder (ED) and related pathology. Athlete (n = 91 in Study 1; n = 39 in Study 2) and non-athlete (n = 76 in Study 1; n = 26 in Study 2) patients completed self-report measures, and body mass index (BMI) was calculated. Athlete patients had significantly lower ED symptomatology and depression than non-athlete patients (ps < .05). ED impairment, worry, psychosocial functioning, BMI, obsessive-compulsiveness, and compulsive exercise did not significantly differ between groups (ps > .08). Greater ED symptomatology was associated with higher psychosocial functioning among athlete patients and higher obsessive-compulsive symptoms and compulsive exercise among non-athlete patients. This is a novel study comparing ED symptomatology and related measures of mental health in athlete and non-athlete patients engaged in residential or partial hospitalization ED treatment. Future research should further investigate how participation in high-level sport impacts the presentation, treatment, and outcome of individuals with EDs.

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Laura K. Fewell, Riley Nickols, Amanda Schlitzer Tierney and Cheri A. Levinson

Understanding the unique needs of athletes who undergo eating disorder (ED) treatment is sorely needed. This study explores changes of strength and power in athlete (n = 21) and non-athlete (n = 36) patients from intake to discharge. Maximal oxygen consumption, vertical jump, push-ups, hand grip strength, and body mass index (in anorexia nervosa; AN) were measured among treatment center patients. The number of push-ups and hand grip strength were significantly improved upon discharge in the full sample (ps < .005) and in AN only (ps < .001). Body mass index was also significantly higher in AN (p < .001). Maximal oxygen consumption and vertical jump did not significantly improve between admission and discharge in either group (ps > .40). This study is the first to investigate measures of strength in athletes engaged in intensive eating disorder treatment and indicates the need to address the psychological mindset around physical activity using exercise education as part of a comprehensive program. Recommendations for incorporating exercise into an intensive ED treatment center are also provided.