Health service utilization for eating disorders: Findings from a community-based study

School of Psychological Science, La Trobe University, Bundoore VIC 3083, Australia.
International Journal of Eating Disorders (Impact Factor: 3.03). 07/2007; 40(5):399-408. DOI: 10.1002/eat.20382
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Prior use of health services was examined in a community sample of women with bulimic-type eating disorders.
Participants (n = 159) completed a structured interview for the assessment of eating disorder psychopathology as well as questions concerning treatment-seeking and type of treatment received.
Whereas a minority (40.3%) of participants had received treatment for an eating problem, most had received treatment for a general mental health problem (74.2%) and/or weight loss (72.8%), and all had used one or more self-help treatments. Where treatment was received for an eating or general mental health problem, this was from a primary care practitioner in the vast majority of cases. Only half of those participants who reported marked impairment associated with an eating problem had ever received treatment for such a problem and less than one in five had received such treatment from a mental health professional.
Women with bulimic-type eating disorders rarely receive treatment for an eating problem, but frequently receive treatment for a general mental health problem and/or for weight loss. The findings underscore the importance of programs designed to improve the detection and management of eating disorders in primary care.

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