Barriers to help-seeking in young women with eating disorders

A qualitative exploration in a longitudinal community survey

Elizabeth J. Evans, Phillipa J. Hay, Jonathan Mond, Susan J. Paxton, Frances Quirk, Bryan Rodgers, Atiranjan K. Jhajj, Marta A. Sawoniewska

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    61 Citations (Scopus)


    Few with eating disorders (EDs) access evidence-based treatments. We conducted a prospective exploration of help-seeking by 57 community women with bulimic-type EDs using the Framework approach of familiarization, identifying themes, indexing, charting and mapping and interpretation. The mean age of the sample was 33 years. Results found women sought help for concerns regarding perceived (over) weight rather than for eating, although many women would have welcomed questions from professionals regarding eating behaviours. Empathy, providing information and hope were considered important features of health professionals to provide a positive experience of help-seeking. Specific personal barriers to treatment included low motivation, fear of stigma, and cost. Greater clinician and community awareness of and action on these issues would likely help close "the gap" for effective help-seeking by those with EDs.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)270-285
    Number of pages16
    JournalEating Disorders
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - May 2011

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