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Title: Experiences of using pro-eating disorder websites : a qualitative study with service users in NHS eating disorder services
Author: Collyer, Leigh Suzanne
ISNI:       0000 0004 5358 7087
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2014
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There is a growing professional concern regarding the existence of pro eating disorder (pro-ED) websites. Previous research investigating the impact of pro-ED websites has comprised analyses of website content and experimental exposure of mock pro-ED content with participants from non-clinical populations. The few studies involving the assessment of pro-ED website use in individuals with eating disorders have predominantly used online survey methodology. The findings from these studies suggest that pro-ED websites may have a detrimental impact on emotional and physical wellbeing. The present study sought to explore the function and impact of pro-ED websites in a clinical sample of individuals in treatment for an eating disorder. Participants were recruited through tier two community mental health teams and tier three specialist eating disorder services within two NHS Health Boards in South Wales. Individual face to face interviews were conducted with seven adult females receiving treatment for an eating disorder who had disclosed historic or current use of pro-ED websites. Constructivist Grounded Theory was used to analyse the data. Five key themes were identified within the interview transcripts: fear, cognitive dissonance, social comparisons, shame, and pro-ED website maintaining eating disordered behaviour. Pro-ED websites were often used to reduce a sense of social isolation, fuelled by stigma and shame associated with the eating disorder and use of pro-ED websites. Individuals experienced cognitive dissonance regarding their use of pro-ED websites, and the websites were often used to protect themselves from pressures to recover. The pro-ED websites appeared to offer a sense of support, validation and reassurance, whilst simultaneously reinforcing and maintaining eating disordered behaviour. Websites were often used to motivate food restriction, and were at times used as a method of punishment when individuals experienced self-criticism. The findings are discussed in relation to implications for eating disorder treatment services and recommendations for future research are outlined.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology