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Characteristics Of Outpatients Diagnosed With The Selective/neophobic Presentation Of Avoidant/restrictive Food Intake Disorder

Hana F Zickgraf, H. Murray, H. E. Kratz, M. Franklin
Published 2019 · Medicine, Psychology

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OBJECTIVE Although Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) has existed since the publication of DSM-5 in 2013, research on the descriptive psychopathology of treatment-seeking patients with formal ARFID diagnoses is sparse, and limited to tertiary eating disorder-focused treatment settings where most patients present with weight loss/malnutrition. In these settings, the selective/neophobic symptom presentation is rare compared to other primary eating restrictions. We aimed provide initial descriptive psychopathology of ARFID primary selective/neophobic symptom presentation in an outpatient setting, and to explore the prevalence of the core ARFID symptoms and clinical differences among patients meeting criteria based on weight/nutritional symptoms versus psychosocial impairment only. METHOD We reviewed the charts of 22 consecutive outpatients diagnosed with ARFID caused by selective/neophobic eating, and describe symptoms, impairment, illness trajectory, and demographic features. Patients who met ARFID criteria because of weight loss/nutritional problems were compared to those who met for psychosocial impairment only on demographic and clinical characteristics. RESULTS Patients were predominantly male (81.8%) and school-aged (4-11 years). 81.8% had no weight/nutritional symptoms documented by a medical provider. All met criteria for significant psychosocial impairment. There were few differences between patients who did versus did not meet weight loss/nutritional criteria for ARFID; they differed only in age and in the presence of appetite disturbances consistent with another proposed presentation of ARFID. DISCUSSION These results provide novel data on the clinical characteristics of individuals who present with a primary presentation of selective/neophobic ARFID, including support for psychosocial impairment as sufficient for fulfilling ARFID criterion A.
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