Understanding how parents cope with living with someone with anorexia nervosa: Modelling the factors that are associated with carer distress


  • Part of this work has been presented as a poster in the International Conference of Eating Disorders of the Academy for Eating Disorders, in June 2006 in Barcelona, Spain



Caring for a person with anorexia nervosa (AN) has been associated with psychological distress and poor life quality of carers. Addressing carers' needs may impact on prognostic outcome. The aim was to explore and model factors associated with distress in parents of people with AN (N = 151).


A cross-sectional design was used to assess caregiving strains (Pearlin Stress Scales) and psychological distress (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale).


Over 70% of carers (N = 107) scored at or above the suggestive threshold (score ≥ 8) for anxiety, and 38% (N = 54) for depression. Over 50% of carers (N = 78) scored at or above the clinical threshold (score ≥ 11) for anxiety, and 13% (N = 20) for depression. A model of carer distress after multiple regression analyses showed three significant associated variables. In order of significance, self-related strains, carer sex, and interpersonal strains accounted for 41% of the variance, (F(3, 112) = 29.85, p < .001).


Interventions aimed at improving outcome in AN may need to focus on reducing caregiving strains and carers' distress, particularly of mothers. © 2007 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2008