The network theory conceptualizes mental disorders as causally connected symptom systems rather than as effects of a superordinate and unknowable illness, otherwise called latent. Network analysis, a statistical technique designed to identify network structures among psychiatric symptoms from empirical data, has been widely used in eating disorders. Three of these studies have been conducted on patients with anorexia nervosa treated with intensive enhanced cognitive behavior therapy (CBT-E). The first study found that the network structures in adult and adolescent patients with anorexia nervosa are similar and share overvaluation of shape and weight as the core feature of anorexia nervosa psychopathology, supporting the cognitive behavioral theory. The second study found that intensive CBT-E reduces the psychopathology network connectivity over time in patients with anorexia nervosa, confirming the effectiveness of CBT-E in improving eating-disorder psychopathology. In contrast, the third study, including in the networks not only the clinical features of the eating disorder psychopathology but also those of the general psychopathology, found that the structure of the network of patients with anorexia nervosa remains unchanged mainly after intensive CBT-E. These findings stimulate a rethinking of the current viewing of the eating-disorder psychopathology and the potential reasons for the partial efficacy of actual therapeutic interventions for patients with anorexia nervosa, which seem not effective enough to break the bonds between specific and nonspecific eating disorder features.
Calugi, S., & Dalle Grave, R. (2023). The network analysis in patients with anorexia nervosa treated with intensive enhanced cognitive behavior therapy: reflections on the research data. IJEDO, 5, 1-3. doi:10.32044/ijedo.2023.01 Full Text