Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC San Diego

UC San Diego Previously Published Works bannerUC San Diego

Development and validation of the Premorbid Childhood Traits Questionnaire (PCT-Q) in eating disorders.

  • Author(s): Marzola, Enrica
  • Fassino, Secondo
  • Migliaretti, Giuseppe
  • Abbate-Daga, Giovanni
  • Kaye, Walter H
  • et al.


Some features of eating disorders (EDs) are often present in childhood before the onset of the ED. We developed a novel questionnaire to retrospectively capture such childhood traits.


Focus groups were conducted at the University of California-San Diego, USA, and at the University of Turin, Italy. Three focus groups were conducted at each site, interviewing patients and parents to identify those traits that most commonly characterize childhood of patients with EDs. A preliminary version of the Premorbid Childhood Traits Questionnaire (PCT-Q) derived from these focus groups was then administered to 94 consecutive inpatients with an ED and to 286 healthy controls (HCs) at the Turin site. Also, 208 participants' parents were enrolled as well; in fact, the PCT-Q was developed with both a proband and an informant version.


A 37-item final version of the PCT-Q was generated. Reliability analyses suggested acceptability for harm avoidance (HA), social phobia, alexithymia, interoceptive awareness (IA), and food obsessions. Inter-rater reliability ranged from fair to moderate. ED sufferers scored significantly higher than HCs on HA, social phobia, alexithymia, IA, and food obsessions.


These findings support the possibility that premorbid traits contribute to a risk to develop an ED in some individuals.

Level of evidence

III: case-control analytic study.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
Current View