The current study had two objectives: (1) to access the psychiatric comorbidity in axis I and axis II (according to DSM-IV) of anorexia nervosa in a sample of 60 anorexic patients; (2) to compare the features of the psychiatric comorbidity between the two groups of French and Greek anorexic patients who participated in the study, as well as to compare some psychological and behavioral aspects of their anorectic psychopathology.
Sixty anorexic patients, thirty French and thirty Greek, aged between 18 and 60 years, referred for evaluation and therapy at the unit of eating disorders at the "Institut national Marcel-Rivière of the MGEN" (hôpital de La Verrière, France) and at the unit of eating disorders of the First Department of Psychiatry of EGINITIO University Psychiatric Hospital in Athens (Greece), were accessed with the Eating Attitudes Test-26 (EAT26), Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI), Symptom Checklist-90-Revised (SCL90R), Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview, Version 5.0.0 and the International Personality Disorder Examination.
The comparison between the Greek and French patient populations did not show significant differences in age, socio-educational status, family status and BMI. French patients were hospitalized more regularly than Greek patients (χ2 (1)=6.65, P=0.01) and psychotropic drug therapy was more common in French anorexic patients (χ2 (1)=4.59, P=0.06). The results of the EAT 26 questionnaire in Greek and French patients show an average of 34.93 (±18.54) in total, with no statistically significant difference between the two groups. The results of EDI show a statistically significant difference between the two groups in the subscale 3 (body dissatisfaction) in which the Greeks scored on average at 9.40 and the French at 14.90 (t (58)=3.09, P<0.01). According to the results of the MINI scale, 47% of the patients in our total sample had a restrictive anorexia nervosa and 47% had anorexia nervosa of binge-eating/purging type. The most frequent comorbid disorder was the major depressive episode (40%) and the obsessive compulsive disorder (18.3%). The only statistically significant difference between the two groups was the frequency of the major depressive episode, which appeared statistically higher among the French (χ2 (1)=6.94, P=0.01). According to the results of IPDE, 73.3% of patients in total (76.6% of the French and 70% of the Greeks) showed a personality disorder. The most common personality disorder was borderline personality disorder (40%), followed by obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (26.6%) and avoidant personality disorder (21.7%), with no statistically significant differences between the two groups.
The profile of anorexic patients who are addressed to the specialized units of eating disorders in both cities (Paris, Athens) had many points in common (demographic parameters, BMI, subtype of anorexia). The results of the EAT-26 and EDI questionnaires did not differ between the two groups, except for the EDI questionnaire subscale 3, which showed body dissatisfaction, where the French had higher scores; this fact underlines the influence of cultural factors on some psychological and behavioral aspects of the psychopathology of the anorexia nervosa. The rates of comorbidity of anorexia nervosa in axis I and axis II found in our study are in agreement with data from various literature reviews and studies in the recent years. The most interesting point of the comorbidity comparison on axis I between the two groups of patients concerns the difference in the frequency of the major depressive episode, for which the results show higher rates in French patients. We can consider that this finding follows the general trend of mood disorder rates in Western countries and we can assume an explanation based on cultural influences. Finally, we can consider that the differences concerning the hospitalization of French patients in a more regular way than Greek patients and the higher rates of psychotropic treatment in French patients reflect the differences in the health systems between the two countries.
Our study has shown high rates of major depressive episode, as well as personality disorders. There were statistically significant differences in four parameters between our two patient groups, explained by the influence of cultural factors.