Knowledge and attitudes of psychiatrists towards eating disorders

Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2013 Jan;21(1):84-8. doi: 10.1002/erv.2155.


Objective: This study examined the eating disorder mental health literacy of psychiatrists.

Method: A sample of psychiatrists completed a questionnaire measuring knowledge of and attitudes towards eating disorders. Knowledge questions were based on the academic literature, standard diagnostic criteria and national guidelines on the management of eating disorders. Attitude items covered beliefs about the aetiology and treatment of eating disorders, confidence levels in diagnosis and management and the use of compulsory measures in anorexia nervosa.

Results: Psychiatrists’ knowledge of eating disorders was variable with specific gaps in both diagnosis and management. Psychiatrists felt more confident in diagnosing eating disorders than managing these conditions. Attitudes towards eating disorders were less stigmatizing than those seen in other health professionals.

Discussion: There is a clear need for greater education of psychiatrists regarding the diagnosis and management of eating disorders. Implementing training programmes and making information readily available could contribute to addressing these issues.

MeSH terms

  • Anorexia Nervosa / diagnosis
  • Anorexia Nervosa / therapy
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / diagnosis
  • Bulimia Nervosa / therapy
  • Clinical Competence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders* / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatry / education
  • Psychiatry / statistics & numerical data*