University of Leicester
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Meta-cognition in disordered eating : development and preliminary psychometric evaluation of a questionnaire

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:46 authored by Alan. Cunningham
Conventional cognitive-behavioural models of eating disorder have a restricted focus in (a) affording primacy to weight and shape, and neglecting food and eating variables, (b) concentrating on the content of cognition and neglecting process dimensions, (c) primarily considering detriments of symptomotology rather than functionality. This thesis aimed at (a) eliciting dimensions of meta-cognitive eating disordered thinking, and (b) developing a psychometrically valid and reliable questionnaire.;Study 1 involved a clinical sample (n = 20) of patients, all satisfying DSM-IV criteria for eating disorders. A semi-structured interview elicited dimensions of meta-cognition associated with food- and eating-related cognition. These statements were thematically categorised and independently rated by two raters. Inter-rater reliability was high (r = .82). A new questionnaire was developed on the basis of the derived categories. Study 2 involved a large sample of current dieters (n = 264). These participants completed the new questionnaire and six other questionnaire measures.;The results of study 1 yielded 12 conceptually distinct dimensions of meta-cognitive beliefs. In study 2 a factor analysis reduced these dimensions to four factors: monitoring threat of eating ( = .84), abnormal self-inferences ( = .88), displacement of problematic thinking ( = .77), intrusive interference with cognitive functioning ( = .87). The new questionnaire (a) demonstrated good psychometric properties, (b) measured conceptually distinct variables, (c) distinguished between individuals on a number of dimensions of eating psychopathology. Primary indices of eating psychopathology were predicted by two of the factors.;The findings of these studies vindicates the assertion that meta-cognitive appraisals of food- and eating-related cognition are important in eating disorder. Clinical research implications are discussed and therapeutic recommendations for the inclusion of meta-cognitive components in treatment are offered.


Date of award


Author affiliation

Clinical Psychology

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • DClinPsy



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