Ana and the Internet: A review of pro-anorexia websites

Authors

  • Mark L. Norris MD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Paediatric Medicine and Adolescent Health, The Department of Paediatrics, University of Ottawa, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    • Department of Paediatrics, University of Ottawa, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, 401Smyth Road, Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1H 8L1
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  • Katherine M. Boydell PhD,

    1. Department of Public Health Sciences, Community Health Systems Resource Group, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
    2. The Hospital for Sick Children, 555 University Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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  • Leora Pinhas MD,

    1. The Hospital for Sick Children, 555 University Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    2. Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
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  • Debra K. Katzman MD

    1. The Hospital for Sick Children, 555 University Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    2. Department of Paediatrics, Division of Adolescent Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
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Abstract

Objective:

The purpose of this article is to describe the content of pro-anorexia websites, both qualitatively and quantitatively.

Method:

An Internet search protocol was developed to identify pro-anorexia websites. A grounded theory approach was used to generate themes from Internet-based information. Basic descriptive analysis was employed to report on key website characteristics.

Results:

Twenty pro-anorexia websites met inclusion criteria. Saturation of themes was achieved after review of 12 websites. Key website characteristics included purpose of website (75%), information about webmaster (67%), website disclaimers (58%), and information on “tips and tricks” (67%). Religious metaphors, lifestyle descriptions, and “thinspiration” (inspirational photo galleries and quotes that aim to serve as motivators for weight loss) were frequently present. A total of 10 themes were generated. The most prevalent themes included control, success, and perfection.

Conclusion:

Health-care providers and caregivers should be aware of pro-anorexia websites and their content, as these websites contain information that promote and support anorexia nervosa. © 2006 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2006

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