Published Papers - Abstract 35

Ball K, Kenardy J & Lee C. Relationships between disordered eating and unwanted sexual experiences: A review. Australian Psychologist, 1999; 34(3): 166-176

It is frequently suggested that unwanted sexual experiences (USE), particularly childhood sexual abuse, are a major risk factor for the development of disordered eating. A review of published literature indicates that, while several studies find no relationship between a history of USE and eating pathology, many report that the hypothesised relationship is evident in at least some circumstances or subpopulations. It is argued that researchers should now attempt to explain this relationship by linking these research findings to a clear conceptual model which can be tested in future studies. In particular, longitudinal studies are required in order to test whether the relationship between these factors is causal or an artifact of other psychological processes. A conceptual model of the relationships among USE and disordered eating is currently lacking in the literature and the establishment of such a model should be a priority of future research in this area, in order to enable a thorough understanding and minimisation of the effects of USE on later psychological disturbance such as disordered eating.