Stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs about bulimia nervosa: Gender, age, education and income variability in a community sample

Authors


  • Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

  • Supported by DP1095656 from Australian Research Council. Author BR supported by Fellowship 471429 from National Health & Medical Research Council.

ABSTRACT

Objective

Stigmatizing attitudes towards eating disorders negatively impacts treatment seeking. To determine the effect of interventions to reduce stigma, a measure of stigma that is simple to implement is required. This study aimed to develop a measure of stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs towards bulimia nervosa (SAB-BN) and evaluate the distribution of beliefs across gender, age, education, and income groups.

Method

Participants were 1828 community adults (890 men; 938 women) aged 18–65 sampled from the Australian Electoral Roll responded to a mailed questionnaire. Participants provided demographic information and completed the SAB-BN questionnaire.

Results

Five components of stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs were identified; advantages of BN, minimization/low seriousness, unreliability, social distance, and personal responsibility. Stigma was low except on social distance and personal responsibility sub-scales, which indicated negative attitudes toward people with bulimia. Men compared with women and lower compared with higher education and income groups held significantly higher stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs. There were few differences between age groups in stigma. Differences between demographic groups provides evidence for known-groups validity.

Discussion

The SAB-BN questionnaire provides a potentially useful tool for evaluating stigma in relation to BN. Results provide insight into components of stigma and the demographic groups to whom interventions should be targeted. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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