Background: Disagreement exists on how to best define recovery from eating
disorders. Definitions to date range from physical to cognitive, emotional,
psychological and social. However, none provides a multidimensional perspective
and few address sufferers' perspectives and comparisons between sufferers' 1 and
clinicians' views. This study investigated recovery from sufferers' and clinicians'
perspective using a multidimensional recovery model.
Methods: Participants were individuals with a past or present self-defined eating
difficulty and clinicians working in the field of eating disorders. Participants read
counterbalanced vignettes, in which an individual's eating difficulty was either
restrictive or bulimic and her functioning varied along somatic, psychological,
emotional, social, eating-related, and body experience-related domains.
Participants rated the extent of the individual's recovery. They also completed a
checklist, rating the importance of a range of recovery criteria (i.e., somatic,
psychological, emotional, social, eating-related, and body experience-related).
Results: Overall, there was agreement about the relative importance of recovery
criteria, with weight-control, appearance-related, psychological, emotional, and
social criteria described as more important than somatic criteria and eating-related
behaviours. However, sufferers tended to stress the importance of appearancerelated,
psychological, emotional and social improvements, while clinicians
stressed the primacy of somatic and physical changes. The type of eating
difficulties (i.e., restrictive or bulimic) did not influence recovery assessments.
Analyses of the structure of the recovery criteria checklist showed that these
criteria fell into meaningful factors (i.e., Psycho-emotional-social criteria, Weightcontrolling
behaviours, Non-life threatening features, Life-threatening features,
and Evaluation of one's own appearance). Conclusions: The results are discussed in relation to existing recovery research.
Study limitations and suggestions for possible future research are outlined.
Guidance is offered regarding the findings' clinical implications, with particular
attention to how to facilitate recovery within current therapeutic work.
1 For this thesis' purposes and simplicity's sake, 'sufferers' will refer to individuals
with an active or past mental health difficulty. The researcher is aware of this
choice' limitations and of the debate over the terms to indicate individuals given
psychiatric diagnoses (e.g., Tait & Lester, 2005).
This thesis supplied via ROAR to UEL-registered users is protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights, and duplication of any part of the material is not permitted, except for your personal use for the purposes of non-commercial research and private study in electronic or print form. You must obtain permission from the copyright-holder for any other use. Electronic or print copies may not be offered, for sale or otherwise, to anyone. No quotation from the thesis may be published without proper acknowledgement.