Stigma and eating disorders: is there evidence of negative attitudes towards anorexia nervosa among women in the community?

Mond, Jonathan M., Robertson-Smith, Gemma, and Vetere, Arlene (2006) Stigma and eating disorders: is there evidence of negative attitudes towards anorexia nervosa among women in the community? Journal of Mental Health, 15 (5). pp. 519-532.

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Abstract

Background and aims:Few studies have examined stigma towards individuals affected by eating disorders. The aim of this study was to elucidate negative attitudes concerning the eating disorder anorexia nervosa (AN).

Method:A vignette describing a fictional 15-year-old female meeting diagnostic criteria for AN was presented to 250 female university students, followed by a series of questions designed to assess perceptions of severity, self-centredness, contribution to society, social distance and desirability. Participants' levels of eating disorder psychopathology and familiarity with the problem described were also assessed.

Results:Whereas attitudes were generally positive, negative attitudes were apparent in responses to items addressing self-centredness and social distance. In addition, many participants had at some stage thought that it “might not be too bad” to have the problem described. Exposure to information concerning the problem described through film or television was associated with less negative attitudes, whereas other types of exposure had little or no effect.

Conclusions:Negative attitudes towards individuals affected by AN exist among women in the community, as well as ambivalence concerning the severity of the disorder. Further research is needed to identify the nature of stigma associated with eating disorders and the variables that moderate its expression.

Item ID: 4128
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: eating disorders; attitudes; anorexia nervosa
ISSN: 0963-8237
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2009 23:25
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1103 Clinical Sciences > 110319 Psychiatry (incl Psychotherapy) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920410 Mental Health @ 100%
Citation Count from Scopus Scopus 37
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