A qualitative study of the experience of caring for a person with bulimia nervosa. Part 1: The emotional impact of caring




Family carers of individuals with mental disorders have been found to experience mental health difficulties of their own. There has been little research into the impact of caring for individuals with eating disorders. A preliminary study found that carers of individuals with anorexia nervosa experience more difficulties and distress than carers of people with psychoses (Treasure et al., [2001]. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 36, 343–347). This is the first study to qualitatively investigate the experiences of carers of individuals with bulimia nervosa (BN).


Twenty carers of individuals with BN were interviewed using a semistructured interview. Interviews were transcribed and the texts analyzed using content analysis to identify themes.


The principal themes to emerge were the impact of the discovery of BN on the carer, the ongoing impact of care-giving, coping strategies used by the carer, and the positive impact of the illness for both the carers and the persons in their care.


BN has a potent impact on carers' lives. This has implications in terms of service provision and future research in this area. © 2004 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 36: 256–268, 2004.