Ambivalence and Eating Disorders: Inpatient Treatment, Belonging, and Identity

When Tetyana Tweeted and “Tumblr-ed” (is there a better name for putting something on Tumblr?) a quote from a qualitative research article about ambivalence and eating disorders, I knew I would want to write a blog post about it. Of course, life happened, and so this post is coming a little later than I had intended. Nonetheless, I am happy to be sharing a post about a fresh article by Karin Eli (2014) about eating disorders and ambivalence in the inpatient hospital setting. The article itself is published through PLOS One and so is also open access, in case you are interested in reading the original.

THE STUDY

This article is about one aspect of a larger longitudinal study Eli conducted in Israel between 2005 and 2011. The broader study explores the “sensory experiences” (embodied feelings, sensations, and perceptions) of individuals with eating disorders and how these relate … Continue reading →

Setting a Target Weight: An Arbitrary Exercise?

Achieving a healthy weight is a major goal of anorexia nervosa treatment. Indeed, a healthy weight is often seen as a prerequisite for psychological recovery. The fact that weight restoration is a crucial component of recovery is uncontroversial, the problem arises when it comes to determining what constitutes a healthy weight. How are ideal, optimal, or goal weights set? And who gets to decide?

Despite its recognized importance, there’s surprisingly little consensus on how target weight should be determined. Moreover, as Peter Roots and colleagues found out, when it comes to inpatient treatment centres in the UK and Europe, there is little consistency too.

In a study published in 2006, Roots et al. examined how treatment centres determine, monitor, and use target weight in the treatment of adolescents with anorexia nervosa. They also wanted to know the centres’ expected rate of weight gain, how often patients were weighed, who was … Continue reading →

Patient Perspectives on Anorexia, Treatment, and Therapeutic Alliance

Dear Science of Eating Disorders readers, please welcome Andrea, our newest contributor! Below is her introduction and first post.

Hello SEDs readers, my name is Andrea and I’m excited to be contributing to the blog. I have an undergraduate degree in sociology and I am currently a Masters student studying family relations and human development. My research is looking at the experiences of young women in recovery from eating disorders, and uses qualitative methods including narrative interviews and digital stories to explore stories of eating disorders and recovery. I am particularly interested in stories that fall outside of the “norm,” as I feel that we sometimes hear a limited, scripted story of what it means to be someone who has had and recovered from an eating disorder.

I myself am recovered from ED-NOS, and I am happy to be making meaning from my experiences by exploring eating disorders in an Continue reading →

Anorexia Nervosa: Can We Blame The Season Of Birth?

You might have heard that individuals born between the months of June – August (or sometimes March – August) have a higher chance of developing anorexia nervosa. But is it true? A lot of studies have been done to investigate the question of whether a season of birth (or a month) correlates with a higher risk of anorexia or bulimia nervosa. The results are inconsistent, weak, and fraught with methodological problems.

But first, how could seasons (or the average temperature during birth, or conception) have an effect on the etiology of eating disorders? What’s the hypothesis?

There seem to be two main ideas (summarized in Winje et al., 2012):

  1. alterations in neuropsychological function as a result of sunlight exposure during gestation or postpartum, maternal infections during pregnancy, or nutritional changes (seasonal variation in nutrients, vitamins)
  2. alterations in fertility/reproductive patterns of the parents due to cultural influences, disordered eating in
Continue reading →

What Makes a Good Nurse? Perspectives of Anorexia Nervosa Patients

Nurses can play an important role in facilitating recovery from anorexia nervosa, particularly in an inpatient or residential treatment setting. But what makes a good nurse from the patient’s perspective? More specifically, what qualities do adolescents with anorexia nervosa consider important and helpful during recovery?

The answer may seem obvious: understanding, empathetic, supportive, non-judgemental, and the like. But those are sort of general characteristics that apply to good friends, family members, partners, doctors, other healthcare professionals, and even teachers.

Joyce von Ommen and colleagues wanted to dig a little deeper than that. They wanted to find out what components of nursing care helped patients restore normal eating and exercise patterns.

In order to find out, they collected interviews from 12 female adolescent patients (mean age of 15, range from 13-17), who were discharged from a specialized eating disorder treatment centre within three months of the interview. The patients were diagnosed … Continue reading →

Maintaining Change Following Intensive Eating Disorder Treatment

It is a relatively well known fact that eating disorders have a high relapse rate and many people, myself included, find themselves in multiple intensive – residential, inpatient, even partial hospitalization – treatments. One may ask if such intensive treatments really work or if long term intensive care is just a band-aid of sorts. I know I’ve had to ask myself, “why is this going to work this time when it hasn’t worked in the long run before.”

There is even debate in the field on whether residential treatment actually has evidence supporting its effectiveness (see Tetyana’s post here). I can speak from experience that the various intensive treatments I’ve personally done have saved my life and given me more perspective, skills training, and support than I could have had otherwise. However, despite having made significant changes, I’ve had more than my share of slips and relapses.

I … Continue reading →

Can Eating Disorders Be Contagious?

Treating a patient with an eating disorder can often feel like walking on eggshells; it is easy to say or do the wrong thing. I’ve covered this topic in my previous posts. In my first post, I wrote about negative attitudes that health care providers often have with regard to eating disorder patients and in my second post, I covered some ways in which caring clinicians that do work with ED patients may – usually inadvertently – negatively impact treatment, often by impairing the physician-patient/caregiver relationship.

But let’s forget about clinicians for a second, what if the treatment environment itself is damaging? Could treatment itself do more harm than good?

That’s the question that Walter Vandereycken explored in this commentary article. (This interesting paper was brought to my attention by a reader – you know who you are, so thanks!)

And just to be really clear Vandereycken doesn’t … Continue reading →

Eating Disorders and Psychiatric Comorbidities in Female Inpatients

Patients with eating disorders commonly exhibit comorbid psychiatric disorders, including anxiety, depression and OCD. The presence of comorbid disorders has been shown to exacerbate the severity and chronicity of the disorder, and unfavourably affect treatment outcome. Moreover, comorbid disorders may necessitate specialized treatment plans that take into account all the co-occuring disorders. Recovery from an eating disorder is hard enough, but when it is complicated by depression and severe anxiety, it can be a lot harder.

Nonetheless, commonly co-occuring psychiatric disorders may also provide researchers and clinicians clues about the etiology of eating disorders, the underlying neuronal processes as well as possible pharmacological interventions.

Researchers have been identifying disorders that commonly co-occur with eating disorders and studying the differences in co-morbidity between disorders. I picked one to write about today, it is a study by Blinder and colleagues that came out in 2007. It is by no means … Continue reading →