The stigma of eating disorders: which interventions might help?

Eating disorders are serious psychiatric conditions affecting up to 5% of the population over the life-course and bearing some of the highest mortality rates of all psychiatric disorders | By Francesca Solmi for The Mental Elf


It is not uncommon that in public discourse they are trivialised as disorders of volition; the result of media and peer pressures on young girls to achieve unattainable beauty standards. A case in point is last year’s comment by Baroness Joan Bakewell (who afterwards apologised for her remark) suggesting that to suffer from anorexia nervosa is a “sign of the overindulgence of our society, over-introspection, narcissism”.

In this context, a new systematic review on the effectiveness of different types of interventions to reduce stigma towards eating disorders by Doley and colleagues is a much-needed piece of research in an area lacking evidence.

Stigma-reduction strategies

A combination of educational and contact approaches was the most effective approach at reducing attitudinal, affective, and behavioural measures of stigma. No studies directly compared educational and contact approaches, but, overall, studies evaluating the impact of these two approaches individually did not observe improvements in attitudinal stigma after the intervention or found small improvement in behavioural stigma that, however, did not persist at follow-up.

Read the full blog post here

The original research abstract is available here



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