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Experiences of support services for eating disorders in Ireland: an exploratory study

Dublin City University. School of Health and Human Performance
Publication Date
  • Health
  • Eating Disorders
  • Support Services
  • Treatment Experiences (Ireland)
  • Medicine


The purpose of this MSc project was to investigate qualitatively eating disorder (ED) patients‟ perspectives on their treatment experiences and expectations, within the Irish context. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive female sample of current (N=11) and discharged (N=3) ED service users, ranging in age from 18 to 31 years (M= 23.21, SD= 4.19). An interpretive thematic analytic approach, comprising both inductive and deductive methods of analysis, was employed to identify key themes in the data. Participants described the importance of both structural aspects of the treatment environment and interpersonal aspects of care for therapeutic engagement. Of particular importance was a therapeutic approach which guided participants to a personal understanding of their ED. Participants underscored the value of supportive relationships which emphasised reciprocal exchange, and the need for collaboration and control in treatment decisions. Findings provide several practical recommendations for ways in which current ED services in Ireland might more effectively meet the need of service users. An in-depth understanding of treatment factors that both strengthen and weaken engagement for ED patients can inform health policy and future service development, enhancing the quality of care provided.

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