The aim of the present study was to explore patients' experiences of participating in a self-admission program at a specialist eating disorders clinic. Sixteen adult program participants with a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa were interviewed at 6 months about their experiences in the self-admission program. A qualitative content analysis approach was applied to identify recurring themes. Four themes were identified: Agency and Flexibility, Functions, Barriers, and Applicability. Participants used self-admission to boost healthy behaviors, to prevent deterioration, to forestall the need for longer periods of hospitalizations, and to get a break from overwhelming demands. Quick access to brief admissions provides a safety net that can increase feelings of security in everyday life, even for patients who do not actually make use of the opportunity to self-admit. It also provided relief to participants' relatives. Furthermore, participants experienced that self-admission may foster agency and motivation. However, the model also requires a certain level of maturity and an encouraging environment to overcome barriers that could otherwise hinder optimal use, such as ambivalence in asking for help. Informants experienced that self-admission could allow them to gain greater insight into their disease process, take greater responsibility for their recovery, and transform their health care from crisis-driven to proactive. By offering a shift in perspective on help-seeking and participation, self-admission may potentially strengthen participants' internal responsibility for their treatment and promote partnership in treatment.
Keywords: anorexia nervosa; eating disorders; inpatients; patient admissions; patient participation; patient-centered care; voluntary admissions.
© 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.