Intended for healthcare professionals


The SCOFF questionnaire: assessment of a new screening tool for eating disorders

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 04 December 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:1467
  1. John F Morgan, clinical research fellow (,
  2. Fiona Reid, lecturer in medical statisticsb,
  3. J Hubert Lacey, professora
  1. a Department of Psychiatry, St George's Hospital Medical School, London SW17 0RE
  2. b Department of Public Health Sciences, St George's Hospital Medical School
  1. Correspondence to: J F Morgan
  • Accepted 16 August 1999

Eating disorders are among the most common psychiatric disorders in young women. Early detection and treatment improves prognosis, but presentation is often cryptic—for example, via physical symptoms in primary care. Ability to diagnose the condition varies and can be inadequate,1 and existing questionnaires for detection 2 3 are lengthy and may require specialist interpretation. No simple, memorable screening instruments are available for non-specialists. In alcohol misuse the CAGE questionnaire4 has proved popular with clinicians because of its simplicity. We developed and tested a similar tool for eating disorders— with questions designed to raise suspicion that an eating disorder might exist—before rigorous clinical assessment.

Participants, methods, and results

We developed five questions addressing core features of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa using focus groups of patients with eating disorders and specialists in eating disorders; we tested the questions in a feasibility study of patients and staff at an eating disorders unit None …

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