Development of a Chinese medicine pattern severity index for understanding eating disorders

Sarah Fogarty, David Harris, Chris Zaslawski, Andrew J. McAinch, Lily Stojanovska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Eating disorders commonly affect young girls and women. Four eating disorders are analyzed in this study: anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS), and binge eating disorder (BED). Eating disorders are a modern concept and as such there is no critically appraised research on how Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) conceptualizes of or treats eating disorders. The purpose of this study is to identify and quantify the TCM patterns relevant to eating disorders based on a systematic evaluation of the results of a self-reported questionnaire. Methods: One hundred and ninety-six (196) female participants (142 with a self-reported eating disorder and 54 with no eating disorder) completed an online survey, designed to collect data on their current general health and, where relevant, their eating disorder. The Berle methodology was used to identify TCM patterns involved in eating disorders to tabulate and score the number of signs and symptoms experienced by the participants. Results: For many of the TCM patterns, statistically significant differences were found between presentation severity across the four eating disorders. Conclusions: For the first time, there is evidence-based research to classify the TCM patterns involved in AN, BN, EDNOS, and BED. Evidence is given to support the anecdotal theories of TCM patterns involved in eating disorder presentation. These results have relevance on how eating disorders are treated and viewed by TCM practitioners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-606
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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