Adolescents' experiences of inpatient treatment for anorexia nervosa




This qualitative study aimed to provide a detailed description of how adolescents experience inpatient treatment for anorexia nervosa.


Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 19 young women in two inpatient eating disorder units. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to analyse the data.


Participants expressed both positive and negative views of their inpatient treatment; their accounts were characterized by conflicts and dilemmas. Five themes were identified: (1) What is this illness that I have? (2) Do I want to get well? (3) Being with others: support vs distress; (4) Being an individual vs just another anorexic; and (5) Collaborating in treatment vs being treated.


The stages of change model provides a useful framework for understanding the experience of inpatient treatment. The findings suggest several ways in which inpatient units might more effectively meet the needs of adolescents with anorexia. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.