Problematic exercise is common in eating disorders (EDs) and is associated with poor treatment prognosis; thus, understanding factors associated with problematic exercise may help improve treatment outcomes. In non-clinical samples, emotion dysregulation has been associated with problematic exercise; however, longitudinal associations between emotion dysregulation and problematic exercise have not been examined in clinical ED samples. This study examined if (1) emotion dysregulating was associated with problematic exercise symptom severity and frequency of problematic exercise, and (2) early changes in emotion dysregulation during treatment predicted problematic exercise symptom severity and frequency of problematic exercise in a clinical ED sample. ED patients (N = 207) completed the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS), the Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire, and the Excessive Exercise subscale of Eating Pathology Symptoms Inventory at admission, 1-month post-admission, and discharge. DERS total score was correlated with symptom severity and frequency of problematic exercise at admission. Furthermore, early changes in DERS total score from admission to 1-month predicted problematic exercise symptom severity but not frequency of problematic exercise at discharge. Thus, emotion dysregulation may maintain symptoms of problematic exercise but not frequency in EDs, providing initial evidence that targeting emotion dysregulation may help reduce symptom severity of problematic exercise.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Taylor R. Perry, Dominic M. Denning, Walter H. Kaye, Christina E. Wierenga, Tiffany A. Brown