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Testing sociocultural and ethnocultural models of eating disorder symptomatology in Asian Indian-American women

by 1977- Bhargava, Anju

Abstract (Summary)
By Anju Bhargava, Ph.D. Washington State University August 2007 Chair: Marianne Barabasz For years, the study of eating disorders has focused primarily on Caucasian women, and many believed that eating disorders rarely existed among minorities (Cachelin, Veisel, Barzegarnazari, & Striegel-Moore, 2000). Conflicting research findings on the prevalence and etiology of eating disorder symptomatology in Asian-Americans warrants clinical and research attention. Virtually no published studies have examined the relationship between ethnic identity, acculturation, acculturative stress, and eating disorder symptomatology among Asian Indian- Americans. The purpose of the present study was to 1) examine the relationship between ethnic identity, acculturation, acculturative stress, and eating disorder symptomatology; 2) investigate the prevalence of eating disorder symptomatology among Asian Indian-American women; and 3) evaluate whether a sociocultural model or ethnocultural identity confusion model best explains why this group of women might develop disordered eating. Relationships were also examined between the above-mentioned variables and demographic variables such as age, body mass index, generational status, and length of time residing in the United States. Participants anonymously completed five instruments including a basic demographic questionnaire, the Eating Attitudes Test-26 (Garner, Olmstead, Bohr, & Garfinkel, 1982), Krishnan and Berry’s iv (1992) Acculturation Attitudes Scales, the Social, Attitudinal, Familial, and Environmental Acculturative Stress Scale (Mena, Padilla, & Maldonado, 1987), and the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (Phinney, 1992). The participants included in the data analysis were 147 Asian Indian-American women ranging in age from 18 to 71 years old. Data were analyzed with Pearson correlations and hierarchical multiple regression. A prevalence rate of 12.24% for eating disorder symptomatology was found among Asian Indian-American women. Results indicated that ethnic identity, assimilation, and separation were unrelated to eating disorder symptomatology. Results also indicated that integration, marginalization, body mass index, and acculturative stress were significantly positively correlated with eating disorder symptomatology. Of the key variables examined, acculturative stress was shown to be a unique predictor of eating disorder symptomatology after controlling for the above-mentioned demographic variables in the regression analysis. The present study provided evidence for both sociocultural and ethnocultural models of eating disorders. Limitations to the study, directions for future research, and implications for clinical practice are discussed. v
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School:Washington State University

School Location:USA - Washington

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:eating disorders in women east indian american united states

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