Reactivity to interpersonal stress in patients with eating disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies using an experimental paradigm

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Abstract

Reactivity to interpersonal stress in patients with eating disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies using an experimental paradigm. NEUROSCI BIOBEHAV REV XXX-XXX, 2018.- Social difficulties have been implicated in the development and maintenance of eating disorder symptoms. The aim of this work was to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of experimental studies testing patientsö reactivity to interpersonal stress, compared to healthy controls. Thirty-four studies were included. Meta-analyses were conducted on 16 studies and on following outcomes: attention bias and interference to threatening faces, cortisol, heart rate and negative affect before and after exposure to interpersonal stress. Patients showed heightened attention bias and interference to threatening faces. Lower heart rate after exposure to interpersonal stress and greater negative affect before and after interpersonal stress were observed in the clinical group compared to controls. Surprisingly, only a small minority of studies included measures of abnormal eating behaviour and attitudes. This seems a missed opportunity for testing the causal and maintaining role that abnormalities in interpersonal stress response play in eating disorders. Nonetheless, findings corroborate the hypothesis that patients' response to interpersonal stress differs from that of healthy controls.

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