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To develop a screening test to detect female college athletes with eating disorders/disordered eating (ED/ DE). No validated eating disorder screening tests specifically for athletes have been available.
In this cross-sectional study, subjects from a large midwestern university completed 3 objective tests and a structured diagnostic interview.
A new test, developed and pilot tested by the researchers (Athletic Milieu Direct Questionnaire, AMDQ), and 2 tests normed for the general population (Eating Disorder Inventory-2, Bulimia Test-Revised) were used to identify ED/DE athletes. A structured, validated, diagnostic interview (Eating Disorder Examination, version 12.OD) was used to determine which test was most effective in screening female college athletes.
Subjects included 149 female athletes, ages 18 to 25 years, from 11 Division I and select club sports.
ED/DE subjects (35%) were found in almost every sport. Of the ED/DE subjects, 65% exhibited disordered eating, 25% were bulimic, 8% were classified as eating disordered not otherwise specified (NOS), and 2% were anorexic. The AMDQ more accurately identified ED/DE than any test or combination of items. The AMDQ produced superior results on 7 of 9 epidemiologic analyses; sensitivity was 80% and specificity was 77%, meaning that it correctly classified approximately 4 of every 5 persons who were truly exhibiting an eating disorder or disordered eating.
We recommend that the AMDQ subsets, which met statistical criteria, be used to screen for ED/DE to enable early identification of athletes at the disordered eating or NOS stage and to initiate interventions before the disorder progresses.