PURPOSE: Little is known regarding correlates of help-seeking for a body image problem in adolescents with an eating disorder. This study provides the first population-based investigation of help-seeking correlates among adolescents with an eating disorder.
METHODS: Australian adolescents (N = 1002, 75.5% female, mean age = 15.14, SD = 1.40) who met operational diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder completed a survey assessing help-seeking, and potential correlates of help-seeking (sex, age, body mass index, socio-economic status, migrant status, sexuality, eating disorder diagnosis, psychological distress, and quality of life).
RESULTS: Only 10.1% of participants reported having sought help. Bivariate analyses revealed that increased likelihood of help-seeking was associated with female sex, sexual minority status, being born outside Australia, older age, having a major eating disorder (compared to having an unspecified or other specified feeding or other eating disorder diagnosis), higher psychological distress, and reduced psychological and social functioning. Older age, being born outside of Australia, and having a major eating disorder were significant independent correlates of help-seeking.
CONCLUSIONS: Very few adolescents with an eating disorder seek help for a body image problem. Promoting early, appropriate help-seeking among those who are younger and/or those with less well-known disorders may be particularly important.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level III, case-control analytic study.
- eating disorder
- body image