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Keywords:

  • mothers;
  • eating disorders;
  • children

Abstract

Objective

This study aimed to (i) identify themes and issues that might usefully be addressed in a skills-and-support intervention for mothers with eating disorders who have children less than 5 years of age, and (ii) determine the most appropriate format for such an intervention.

Method

Focus groups and individual interviews were conducted with seven mothers with eating disorders and pre-school children, and four local health professionals working with mothers of pre-school children.

Results

Thematic analysis of interview transcripts revealed 10 themes: ‘Passing on Traits’, ‘Food Preparation and Provision’, ‘Interactions Around Food and Mealtimes’, ‘Mother's Intake’, ‘Self Care’, ‘Self Identity and Parental Expectations’, ‘Impact on General Parent–Child Relationship’, ‘Need for Control’, ‘The Group Experience’ and ‘Practicalities and Format’.

Discussion

Findings highlight a number of difficulties and concerns experienced by mothers with eating disorders who have pre-school age children. An intervention incorporating the identified themes could provide important support to this patient group and potential benefit to their offspring. © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.