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Vagni, David; Moscone, Davide; Travaglione, Sara and Cotugno, Armando (2016): Using the Ritvo Autism Asperger Diagnostic Scale-Revised (RAADS-R) disentangle the heterogeneity of autistic traits in an Italian eating disorder population. In: Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Vol. 32: pp. 143-155

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Background: In recent years it has been suggested that eating disorders (ED) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) could share common difficulties and cognitive style. Recent epidemiological studies found that about 25% of women with anorexia nervosa (AN) reached the cut-off in screening questionnaires for ASD. The present study aimed to assess the heterogeneity of ASD traits in an ED population and extend previous results to ED other than AN in the DSM-5 era. Methods: We assessed all new outpatients (N=71) aged 15 or older, admitted over an 8 month period to a specialized ED hospital ward. After admission, they completed two-self report questionnaires, and received a clinical assessment for ASD, supported by the Ritvo Autism Asperger Diagnostic Scale Revised (RAADS-R) used as a structured clinical interview. The responses to each of the items, subscales, full scales and DSM-5 criteria were examined separately for discriminatory power between patients with high ASD traits (HAST) and low ASD traits (LAST). Results: Thirty-three percent of patients with ED (20% with narrowly defined AN) were classified as HAST, with no significant difference between the ED categories. Using RAADS-R, there was a high agreement among our modified algorithm, clinical judgment and DSM-5 criteria. The distribution of traits was indicative of two distinct populations with specific sets of traits clustering in the two groups. Conclusions: If routinely undertaken, RAADS-R could be useful to disentangle the heterogeneity present in patients with ED. Separating the HAST and LAST groups could be useful for both clinical and research purposes. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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