Not reaching an optimal peak bone mass during adolescence puts young patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) at risk for osteoporosis. Qualitative techniques were employed to determine whether having a bone mineral density (BMD) measurement affected the attitudes and behaviors of young women with AN.
Nineteen adolescents with AN who had undergone BMD measurements were questioned about the experience of having the test and reactions to the results. Themes were identified and statistical analyses were performed.
Participants perceived a normal or low BMD in healthy and unhealthy ways. Although not all healthy feelings led to behavioral change, they appeared to serve as driving forces later in their illness.
Providing young women with BMD results is not always enough to change unhealthy behaviors and may generate some unhealthy thoughts. However, the experience may lead to positive behavioral changes and result in long-term improvement. Clinicians must be careful and sensitive when presenting these results. © 2005 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.