The Irish health professional and eating disorders : their understanding of the eating disordered patient

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Pentony, Emma
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BA (Hons) in Social Science
Dublin Business School
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Eating disorders (ED) are characterised by maladaptive eating behaviours that effect an individual’s physical status and their psychosocial functioning. Therefore, treatment of eating disorders is difficult and it involves the participation of healthcare professionals from various disciplines. The principal objective of this qualitative study was to investigate the understanding of the Irish healthcare professional towards the individual with ED. Nine healthcare professionals’ experiences were elicited via semi-structured interviews with questions focusing on their experience in treating individuals with eating disorders. The nine healthcare professionals, seven females and two males, were chosen because of their diverse roles; psychiatrist, clinical nurse specialist, nutritionist and psychotherapist, and all had a varied amount of experience (4 to 20 years) in the field. Results, obtained through NVivo and thematic analysis, showed that the Irish healthcare professional displayed a good deal of understanding of the ED patient/clients’ experience in treatment, especially relapse, recovery and ED with comorbidity. In addition, attitudes of the healthcare professionals toward the ED disputed the claim of ”the undesirable patient” (Warren,, et al., 2009, p.28 ). Author keywords: Eating disorders, healthcare professional