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The emergence of eating disorders: an exploratory study

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Inspired by ‘Grounded Theory’ we investigated the way patients themselves view the emergence of their eating disorders. Subjects were 125 female patients, between 18 and 24 years of age (AN, n=22; BN, n=65; EDNOS, n=38), from an eating disorder outpatient unit in Göteborg, Sweden. The interviewees' responses were analysed using the following dimensions: (1) age of onset, (2) why the disordered eating behaviour started and (3) what I did at the time. The stated mean age of onset was 16 years of age and significantly higher for AN (17.3 years) than for BN (15.5 years) and EDNOS (15.8 years) patients. Interpersonal and weight-related problems were reported to be the most common cause, independent of diagnosis and dieting or dieting/purging was the most commonly reported response. A combination of interpersonal and weight-related problems, together with dieting behaviour, constitutes the main risk factor for the emergence of eating disorders according to patients' own views. Copyright © 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.

Keywords: development; eating disorders; emergence; explorative; qualitative methodology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Anorexia–Bulimia Unit, Sahlgrenska University Hospital/East, Göteborg, Sweden 2: Department of Psychology, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden

Publication date: August 1, 2000

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