Date of Award

Fall 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Director

Kristina E. Heron

Committee Member

Rob Cramer

Committee Member

Matt Henson


It is common for individuals who engage in disordered eating behaviors to intentionally conceal symptomatology. The purpose of this study was to develop a reliable and valid measure of deliberate denial as it relates to disordered eating behaviors in a non-clinical population. Deliberate denial of disordered eating behaviors can be defined as any conscious omission, concealment, or misrepresentation of behavior related to disordered eating. The present scale was developed within the context of two studies. Study 1 focused on item generation. Items were based on the definition of deliberate denial of disordered eating behaviors, taken from existing eating disorder assessments and questionnaires, and generated from retrospective survey data. Then, three focus groups (N = 13) were asked to generate and review items. Results of the focus group suggested nearly all items (93%) are face valid, with participants indicating they assess aspects of deliberate denial of disordered eating. Focus group members generated 9 new items that were added to the scale. Next, an expert panel (N = 5) composed of eating disorder researchers and clinicians provided feedback on the questionnaire structure, instructions, response scale, item phrasing, and the scale utility. Overall, the expert panel endorsed the utility of the scale. They confirmed that a similar scale does not exist elsewhere in the research literature and that it possesses construct validity. Study 2 took the items generated from Study 1, administered the items to 311 undergraduate female students, and an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was conducted on the responses in order to derive the factor structure of the scale. An exploratory factor analysis (EFA) with varimax rotation was conducted (KMO=.95, Bartlett’s Test of Sphericity: χ2(741)=12,539.79, pχ2(136) =5,430.40, pα=.94). It was correlated positively with concealment and disordered eating and negatively with disclosure, indicating criterion and convergent validity. It was not associated with social desirability, suggesting discriminant validity. This 12-item scale is the first to measure deliberate denial of disordered eating and can be used to examine the role of denial in the onset and maintenance of disordered eating. Denial likely increases interpersonal problems that may, in turn, increase disordered eating and decrease help seeking behaviors, illuminating a need to address denial in identification, prevention, and treatment efforts.


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