Assessment of Eating Disorders – Eating Disorders Facts

A number of fine instruments are available to help healthcare professionals assess for eating disorders. Structured instruments, self-report measures, medical, and nutritional assessments offer support for the tasks of diagnosing and treating these illnesses. Professionals from various disciplines (i.e., medicine, psychology, psychotherapy, nutrition) will find utility in the broad variety of available assessment materials.

The type of instrument selected for use will depend on the training and background of the healthcare professional, as well as the goal for assessment. Do you need help with accurate diagnosis? Are you attempting to formulate a treatment plan? Is healthy nutrition your primary goal?

While assessment instruments are not a substitute for a well-conducted interview (diagnostic or nutritional), information obtained through the use of assessment materials can assist significantly in understanding a patient’s symptoms and clinical presentation, as well as in developing a treatment plan and addressing therapeutic needs.

To assist with diagnosis, semi-structured instruments, such as the Eating Disorder Examination, the Interview for Diagnosis of Eating Disorders, The Yale-Brown-Cornell Eating Disorder Scale, and the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM Axis 1 Disorders, have high reliability.

A variety of self-report measures can also be extremely useful in the assessment process. According to Assessment of Eating Disorders, self-report instruments can be useful to quantify symptoms, verify diagnosis, examine specific clinical features, and examine change in a patient’s symptoms over time.

Useful self-report measures include:

The Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI-3). The EDI-3 includes 12 subscales useful for treatment planning and provides normative scores for clinical and illustrative purposes. Responses on individual items provide fruitful content for therapeutic exploration as well. Click here to see information about sample items from the EDI-3.

Source: Kring, A., Davison, G., & Neale, J.(2005). Abnormal Psychology (10thEd.). New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

The Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire (EDE-Q) is a self-report adaptation of the structured interview version developed by Fairburn and Cooper. The EDE-Q has been hailed as one of the most accurate methods of assessing binge eating. The Binge Eating Scale is a newer instrument that has also proven to be useful with this population.

The Eating Disorder Questionnaire (EDQ) provides information about symptomatology that is useful for tracking changes over time. A copy of the EDQ is available for use inAssessment of Eating Disorders by Mitchell and Peterson.

The Eating Attitudes Test is extremely useful as well.

Measures of dietary restraint such as the Restraint Scale and the Dutch Eating Disorder Questionnaire are useful for dietary assessment, as is the Questionnaire of Eating and Weight Patterns. The Eating Disorders Clinical Pocket Guide offers a wide variety of useful checklists for professionals of varying disciplines.

For assessment related to quality of life, the Impact of Weight on Quality of Life and theEating Disorders Quality of Life Scale add value to a comprehensive assessment.

Family therapy and family assessment deserves attention as well. For further information in this area, click here.

Medical assessment, nutritional assessment, and therapeutic assessment worksheets can also be found in the highly recommended resource Eating Disorders: Time for Change by Laura Goodman and Mona Villapiano.

Finally, don’t forget traditional assessment instruments such as the Beck Depression Inventory and personality measures such as the Millon Clinical Multi-Axial Inventory.


Source: Mitchell, J.E., & Peterson, C.B. (2005). Assessment of Eating Disorders. New York: The Guilford Press.Villapiano, M., & Goodman, L.J. (2001).

Villapiano, M., & Goodman, L.J. (2001).  Eating Disorders: Time for Change.  Philadelphia: Brunner-Routledge.


The above summary, “Assessment of Eating Disorders”, written by Dr. Sari Shepphird, was first posted on her Blog, “Treatment Notes”, on September 18, 2008, through the Gurze website (


Assessment of Eating Disorders – Eating Disorders Facts