Frequency of Eating Disorder Pathology Among Patients With Chronic Constipation and Contribution of Gastrointestinal-Specific Anxiety.


Individuals with eating disorders (EDs) frequently have constipation-related symptoms, although the mechanisms of this relationship are not clear. We examined the frequency of and relation between EDs and constipation in patients with chronic constipation referred for anorectal manometry.We analyzed data from 279 patients with chronic constipation (79.2% female) seen at a tertiary center from June 2017 through September 2018. Participants completed a standardized psychometric assessment (patient assessment of constipation symptoms questionnaire and hospital anxiety and depression scale and visceral sensitivity index analyses) and anorectal manometry. A subset of patients completed colonic transit testing. Participants with clinically significant ED pathology were identified based on scores of 20 or more on the eating attitudes test-26. We performed logistic regression analysis to examine factors associated with likelihood of having ED pathology. Odds ratios (ORs) were calculated based on continuous variables. We examined the contribution of anxiety to the relationship between severity of ED pathology and symptoms of constipation (such as abdominal pain) using a regression-based bootstrapping approach.Of the study participants, 53 (19.0%) had clinically significant ED pathology. The presence of ED pathology was associated with greater general anxiety scores, based on the hospital anxiety and depression scale (OR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.05-1.38), and greater gastrointestinal-specific anxiety scores, based on the visceral sensitivity index (OR, 1.06; 95% CI, 1.03-1.09). Gastrointestinal-specific anxiety fully mediated the relationship between the severity of ED pathology and constipation (standardized β, 0.11-0.16; P=.026-.024). We found no differences in anorectal manometry or colonic transit between patients with vs without ED pathology.In an analysis of patients with chronic constipation, we found that 19% had clinically significant ED pathology. Our preliminary finding indicate that ED pathology might contribute to constipation via gastrointestinal-specific anxiety. Clinicians should consider screening patients with chronic constipation for EDs-especially patients who report symptoms such as bloating and abdominal pain.

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