This study assessed gender-related differences in executive functions (decision-making, inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility), personality traits and psychopathological symptoms in binge-spectrum eating disorders (EDs). Secondly, we aimed to separately explore the predictive value of gender and executive functions in treatment outcome.
A battery of self-reported and neurocognitive measures were answered by a sample of 85 patients (64 females) diagnosed with a binge-spectrum ED (41 BN; 44 binge eating disorder).
Data showed gender-related differences in executive functioning, displaying women lower inhibitory control and lower cognitive flexibility than men. Regarding personality traits and psychopathology symptoms, women presented higher reward dependence and cooperativeness, as well as more drive for thinness, body dissatisfaction, bulimia, and somatisation symptoms than men. Finally, worse executive functioning, particularly having lower ability in concept formation seems to predict worse treatment outcomes and dropout in these patients.
We described gender specific neuropsychological, personality and psychopathological impairments in patients with binge-spectrum EDs. Moreover, difficulties in executive functioning might have an impact on treatment response, since patients with a lower ability in concept formation are less likely to benefit from treatment. The present results can help improving current treatment approaches by tackling gender and individual differences.