The Prevalence and adverse associations of stigmatization in people with eating disorders

Scott Griffiths, Jonathan M. Mond, Stuart B. Murray, Stephen Touyz

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    57 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    OBJECTIVE: To date, studies of stigma relating to eating disorders have been largely confined to surveys of the public. We sought to examine the prevalence and correlates of stigma as reported by individuals with eating disorders. METHOD: An online survey designed to assess frequency of exposure to potentially stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs as well as the perceived impact of this on health and well-being was completed by a cross-national sample of 317 individuals with anorexia nervosa (n = 165), bulimia nervosa (n = 66), or Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS; n = 86). RESULTS: Participants rated two beliefs as both particularly common and particularly damaging, namely "I should be able to just pull myself together" and "I am personally responsible for my condition". Participants with bulimia nervosa more commonly experienced the belief that they had "no self-control" and male participants more commonly experienced the belief that they were "less of a man". More frequent stigmatization was associated with higher levels of eating disorder psychopathology, a longer duration of disorder, lower self-esteem, and more self-stigma of seeking psychological help. DISCUSSION: Stigma towards individuals with eating disorders, as experienced by sufferers, is common and associated with numerous adverse outcomes. The perceptions that eating disorders are trivial and self-inflicted should be a focus of destigmatization interventions. Efforts to reduce stigma towards individuals with bulimia nervosa may need to focus on perceptions of self-control, whereas efforts to reduce stigma towards males with eating disorders may need to focus on perceptions of masculinity/manhood.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)767-774
    Number of pages8
    JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
    Volume48
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015

    Keywords

    • stigma
    • eating disorders
    • anorexia nervosa
    • bulimia nervosa
    • EDNOS

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