A qualitative study of perceived social barriers to care for eating disorders: perspectives from ethnically diverse health care consumers

Int J Eat Disord. 2010 Nov 1;43(7):633-47. doi: 10.1002/eat.20755.


Objective: The study aim was to identify and describe health consumer perspectives on social barriers to care for eating disorders in an ethnically diverse sample.

Method: We conducted an exploratory secondary analysis of qualitative data comprising transcripts from semi-structured interviews with past and prospective consumers of eating disorder treatment (n = 32). Transcripts were inputted into NVivo 8 for coding, sorting, and quantifying thematic content of interest within strata defined by ethnic minority and non-minority participants. We then examined the influence of key social barriers-including stigma and social stereotypes-on perceived impact on care.

Results: The majority of respondents (78%) endorsed at least one social barrier to care for an eating or weight concern. Perceived stigma (or shame) and social stereotyping-identified both within social networks and among clinicians-had adversely impacted care for 59% and 19% of respondents, respectively.

Discussion: Social barriers to care for eating and weight related concerns may be prevalent in the U.S. and impact both ethnic minority and non-minority health care consumers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Ethnic Groups / psychology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / ethnology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Perception
  • Social Support
  • Stereotyping
  • United States