Self-injury in adolescents with eating disorders: Correlates and provider bias

Rebecka Peebles, Jenny L. Wilson, James D. Lock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Introduction: Self-injurious behavior (SIB) is common among adolescents, and has been shown to be associated with eating disorders (ED). This study examines the prevalence of SIB and SIB screening in adolescents with ED, and associations with binge eating, purging, and diagnosis. Methods: Charts of 1,432 adolescents diagnosed with ED, aged 10-21 years, at an academic center between January 1997 and April 2008, were reviewed. Results: Of patients screened, 40.8% were reported to be engaging in SIB. Patients with a record of SIB were more likely to be female, have bulimia nervosa, or have a history of binge eating, purging, co-morbid mood disorder, substance use, or abuse. Patients who engaged in both binge eating and purging were more likely to report SIB than those engaged in restrictive behavior or either behavior alone. Providers documented screening for SIB in fewer than half of the patients. They were more likely to screen patients who fit a profile of a self-injurer: older patients who binge, purge, or had a history of substance use. Conclusions: SIB was common in this population, and supports extant literature on associations with bulimia nervosa, mood disorders, binge eating, purging, abuse, and substance use. Providers may selectively screen patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-313
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent medicine
  • Eating disorders
  • Self-injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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