Direct Experience and the Course of Eating Disorders in Patients on Partial Hospitalization: A Pilot Study

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Abstract

Awareness of sensory experience in the present moment is central to mindfulness practice. This type of information processing, in contrast to an analytical evaluative style of processing, could be more beneficial for the course of those psychiatric disorders characterized by ruminative and content-centred processing, such as eating disorders (EDs). We performed a pilot study to assess the relation between patients' approach to information processing and the duration and severity of EDs. Fifty-seven patients with a diagnosed ED were included in the study and participated in a self-guided eating activity to asses the primary information processing mode based on mindfulness concepts of ‘Direct Experience’ and ‘Thinking About’. Additionally, dispositional mindfulness was assessed by the Five Factors Mindfulness Questionnaire, and anxiety during the experiment was determined by means of a 10-point visual analogue scale. We found that a higher level of self-reported Direct Experience was inversely associated with several severity variables and with anxiety levels. Direct Experience was predicted by a low anxiety level, less severe illness, and higher scores on one mindfulness facet (Observing). Our results suggest that a Direct Experience processing approach is associated with better ED outcomes. Future studies should be carried out to clarify the repercussion of mindfulness training on EDs. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.

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