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Keywords:

  • barriers to treatment;
  • eating disorders;
  • ethnicity;
  • health care utilization;
  • treatment seeking

Abstract

Objective

The study examined treatment seeking for eating disorders in Mexican American and European American women.

Method

One hundred forty-five women with eating disorders (76 Mexican American, 69 European American) were diagnosed using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-TR (SCID-IV) and Eating Disorder Examination (EDE).

Results

Only 28% of the sample reported having sought treatment for their eating problems and only 17% had received treatment. Both groups were equally likely to believe they have significant eating problems and to want help. However, Mexican Americans were less likely to have sought treatment and, having sought help, were less likely to have been diagnosed or treated. European Americans were more likely to have utilized psychotherapists, psychiatrists, and psychotropic medications, whereas Mexican Americans largely had sought help from general practitioners for weight concern. The two groups endorsed similar barriers to treatment seeking.

Conclusion

Results support clinical impressions that eating disorders largely go undetected and untreated. Nonspecialists may be likely to fail to detect eating disorders. © 2005 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.