Perfectionism as a transdiagnostic process: A clinical review

Sarah Egan, Tracey Wade, Rosamund Shafran

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    616 Citations (Scopus)


    Perfectionism is a risk and maintaining factor for eating disorders, anxiety disorders and depression. The objective of this paper is to review the four bodies of evidence supporting the notion that perfectionism is a transdiagnostic process. First, a review of the literature was conducted that demonstrates the elevation of perfectionism across numerous anxiety disorders, depression, and eating disorders compared to healthy controls. Data is presented that shows perfectionism increases vulnerability for eating disorders, and that it maintains obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety and depression as it predicts treatment outcome in these disorders. Second, evidence is examined showing that elevated perfectionism is associated with co-occurrence of psychopathology. Third, the different conceptualisations of perfectionism are reviewed, including a cognitive-behavioural conceptualisation of clinical perfectionism that can be utilised to understand this transdiagnostic process. Fourth, evidence that treatment of perfectionism results in reductions in anxiety, depression and eating pathology is reviewed. Finally, the importance of clinicians considering the routine assessment and treatment of perfectionism is outlined.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)203-212
    Number of pages10
    JournalClinical Psychology Review
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Eating disorders
    • Perfectionism
    • Transdiagnostic


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