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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research
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eISSN: 1643-3750

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Perception of transgenerational family relationships: Comparison of eating-disordered patients and their parents

Maciej Wojciech Pilecki, Barbara Józefik

(Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Jagiellonian University Medical College, Kraków, Poland)

Med Sci Monit 2013; 19:1114-1124

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.889432


Background: Disturbances in various elements of transgenerational family functioning patterns are not uncommon in studies of eating disorders.
We examined the relationship between patients’ perception of autonomy and intimacy in their families of origin and that of their parents in their own families of origin.
Material and Methods: The sample consisted of 112 girls who had a diagnosis of an eating disoder and their parents; 54 of the girls were diagnosed with anorexia nervosa restrictive subtype, 22 as anorexia nervosa binge/purge subtype, and 36 were diagnosed with bulimia nervosa. We had 2 control groups: 1 group consisted of 36 girls diagnosed with a depressive episode, dysthymia, or adjustment disorder with depressed mood and the other group was 85 female students from schools in Cracow, Poland and their parents. We used the the Family of Origin Scale to assess perception of family relationships. Statistical analysis was performed with the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS 20.0.PL; Chicago, IL, USA).
Results: There was a significant association between daughters’ and fathers’ perceptions of autonomy in their families of origin in all groups. There was no significant association between daughters’ and mothers’ perceptions in all groups. The strongest correlation was between the non-clinical sample of girls and their fathers and for the bulimic group.
Conclusions: We did not detect any link indicating the specificity of transgenerational transmission of autonomy and intimacy in eating disorders. The results point to the importance of the father figure in studies of family systems, including the context of family transmission.

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