Stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs about bulimia nervosa

Gender, age, education and income variability in a community sample

Siân A. McLean*, Susan J. Paxton, Robin Massey, Phillipa J. Hay, Jonathan M. Mond, Bryan Rodgers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)


Objective Stigmatizing attitudes towards eating disorders negatively impacts treatment seeking. To determine the effect of interventions to reduce stigma, a measure of stigma that is simple to implement is required. This study aimed to develop a measure of stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs towards bulimia nervosa (SAB-BN) and evaluate the distribution of beliefs across gender, age, education, and income groups. Method Participants were 1828 community adults (890 men; 938 women) aged 18-65 sampled from the Australian Electoral Roll responded to a mailed questionnaire. Participants provided demographic information and completed the SAB-BN questionnaire. Results Five components of stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs were identified; advantages of BN, minimization/low seriousness, unreliability, social distance, and personal responsibility. Stigma was low except on social distance and personal responsibility sub-scales, which indicated negative attitudes toward people with bulimia. Men compared with women and lower compared with higher education and income groups held significantly higher stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs. There were few differences between age groups in stigma. Differences between demographic groups provides evidence for known-groups validity. Discussion The SAB-BN questionnaire provides a potentially useful tool for evaluating stigma in relation to BN. Results provide insight into components of stigma and the demographic groups to whom interventions should be targeted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-361
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2014


  • bulimia nervosa
  • demographic groups
  • questionnaire measure
  • stigma

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