Influences on diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders among minority ethnic people in the UK

CHOWBEY, Punita, SALWAY, Sarah and ISMAIL, Mubarak (2012). Influences on diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders among minority ethnic people in the UK. Journal of Public Mental Health, 11 (2), 54-64.

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Purpose – Evidence, though limited, suggests that UK minority ethnic individuals have lower referral rates for eating disorders than their White British counterparts. Missed or delayed diagnosis may be an important contributory factor. This paper seeks to identify key areas that require attention for early detection and treatment of eating disorders in minority ethnic people. Design/methodology/approach – The approach taken was a community-based qualitative study in Sheffield, England: interviews with relatives of people with eating disorders (n=3); key informant interviews (n=15); group discussions with community members aged 18-24 (n=4, 24 participants). Findings – Several factors appear to influence the recognition of, and response to, eating disorders among minority ethnic people with potential implications for timely diagnosis and treatment. Low public awareness was an important barrier to seeking medical attention. Norms and ideals relating to food and body image, as well as some religious practices, can also discourage prompt recognition of illness, though there is much diversity within and between families and communities. Some service providers can be slow to consider the possibility of eating disorders among minority ethnic individuals, while others lack confidence to deal with the needs of minority ethnic people. Poor past experiences with services also undermine people's willingness to engage with services. Originality/value – The paper provides insights into socio-cultural influences on the experiences of people living with eating disorders that require greater attention by services. Healthcare practitioners need enhanced awareness that eating disorders do affect minority ethnic people and greater confidence to engage with these patients to gain the information needed for prompt diagnosis and effective treatment.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Centre for Health and Social Care Research
Identification Number:
Page Range: 54-64
Depositing User: Stephanie Portier
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2013 15:51
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 19:45

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