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Keywords:

  • qualitative;
  • eating disorder;
  • recovery;
  • treatment;
  • experience

Abstract

Objective:

Motivational approaches to anorexia nervosa (AN) have mainly concerned motivational quality and quantity. We investigated the content of patients' wish to recover.

Method:

Eighteen women, aged 18–39, with AN were interviewed in depth using a phenomenological study design. Interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using the QSR-N*Vivo software program.

Results:

Four motivational content areas characterized informants' wishes to recover: “Sense of vitality” (e.g., joy, concentration, spontaneity, energy); “Sense of autonomy” (e.g., choosing to recover, new methods of mastery, self-determination); “Sense of insight” (e.g., awareness, seeing nuances, limitation of goals, self-knowledge); and “Negative consequences” (e.g., loss of future, costs to own children, feeling sick or thin, social costs, physical costs).

Conclusion:

Our sample of AN patients' motivation to recover may be described using three dimensions: content, quality, and quantity, and may also include motives with no behavioral intention. Sustained therapeutic success may rest upon the therapist's ability to identify and ally with the patient's motives to recover. © 2008 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2008