Associations between probable eating disorders and healthcare use among post-9/11 veteran men and women

J Psychosom Res. 2022 Jun:157:110811. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2022.110811. Epub 2022 Apr 4.


Objective: Healthcare use is elevated among individuals with eating disorders (EDs); however, most people with EDs do not receive ED-specific care, likely due to factors such as the cost and availability of treatment as well as stigma. U.S. military veterans historically have been understudied in ED research. We investigated healthcare use and barriers to care among recently separated veteran men and women.

Method: In this cross-sectional study, 1494 participants completed an online or paper survey assessing ED symptoms, healthcare use, and logistical and attitudinal barriers to care. We estimated logistic regression models to investigate the association of ED status with healthcare use variables and examined gender similarities and differences in barriers to care.

Results: Men and women with probable EDs reported low rates of ED treatment but greater healthcare use, during military service and since separating from service, compared to veterans without probable EDs (odds ratios = 1.57-7.05). Large proportions of participants reported that they did not know where to get help for EDs and that treatment is too costly. There were few gender differences in barriers to care (Cramer's V = 0.02-0.32).

Conclusion: Veterans reported high healthcare use but low rates of ED treatment. Findings underscore the need to increase the reach and accessibility of ED treatment in potentially vulnerable groups.

Keywords: Barriers to care; Eating disorders; Healthcare use; Veterans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders* / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Social Stigma
  • Veterans*