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Keywords:

  • mental health literacy;
  • eating disorders;
  • prevention programs

Abstract

Objective

To examine the beliefs of women concerning the helpfulness of various possible interventions for bulimia nervosa.

Method

Face-to-face interviews were conducted with a community sample of 208 women aged 18–45 years. Respondents were presented with a vignette describing a fictional person meeting diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa and were asked to indicate whether various persons, treatments, medications, and self-help activities would be helpful, harmful, or neither helpful nor harmful for the person described.

Results

Respondents indicated that seeing a general practitioner (GP), counselor, or dietitian was more likely to be helpful than seeing either a psychologist or a psychiatrist. GPs were perceived as the individuals likely to be most helpful for the problem described, and most likely to be approached first, whereas counseling was regarded as the most helpful treatment. Self-help interventions, including the use of vitamins and minerals, were also highly regarded, while a minority of participants believed that anti-depressant medication would be helpful.

Conclusions

Information concerning treatments that are effective for eating disorders should be included in prevention programs. Collaborations between mental health specialists and primary health providers are vital to ensure the optimal treatment of eating-disordered behavior. © 2004 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 36: 62–68, 2004.