Jonathan Mond, Research Scientist (Correspondence) Neuropsychiatric Research Institute, 700 First Avenue South, Fargo, North Dakota, 58103, US. Email:email@example.com
Beliefs of women concerning causes and risk factors for bulimia nervosa
Article first published online: 11 JUN 2004
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Volume 38, Issue 6, pages 463–469, June 2004
How to Cite
Mond, J. M., Hay, P. J., Rodgers, B., Owen, C. and Beumont, P. J. V. (2004), Beliefs of women concerning causes and risk factors for bulimia nervosa. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 38: 463–469. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1614.2004.01384.x
Cathy Owen, Associate Professor Department of Psychological Medicine, The Canberra Hospital, ACT, Australia.
Phillipa. J. Hay, Professor and Head Discipline of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Bryan Rodgers, Senior Fellow Centre for Mental Health Research, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia
Pierre J. V. Beumont, (deceased) formerly Professor Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
- Issue published online: 11 JUN 2004
- Article first published online: 11 JUN 2004
- Received 16 May 2003; revised 22 October 2003; accepted 10 February 2004.
- bulimia nervosa;
- mental health literacy;
- risk factors.
Objective: To examine the beliefs of women concerning causes and risk factors for eating-disordered behaviour.
Method: Face-to-face interviews were conducted with a community sample of 208 women aged 18−45 years. Respondents were presented with a vignette describing a fictional person meeting diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa (BN) and were asked to indicate whether each of several factors was ‘very likely’, ‘likely’ or ‘not likely’ to be a cause of the problem described, which factor was most likely to be a cause, and whether particular subgroups of people would be ‘more likely’, ‘less likely’ or ‘equally likely’ to have or develop the problem described.
Results: ‘Having low self-esteem’ was considered very likely to be a cause of BN by 75.0% of respondents, and the most likely cause by 40.5% of respondents. Other factors perceived as significant were ‘problems from childhood’, ‘portrayal of women in the media’, ‘being overweight as a child or adolescent’ and ‘day-to-day problems’, while genetic factors and pre-existing psychological problems were perceived to be of minor significance. Most respondents believed that women aged under 25 years were at greatest risk of having or developing BN.
Conclusions: Women's beliefs concerning causes and risk factors for BN are generally consistent with empirical evidence. However, information concerning the increased risk associated with pre-existing anxiety and affective disorders might usefully be included in prevention programs. Systematic investigation of the benefits of addressing individuals’ beliefs concerning risk factors for eating disorders − as opposed to risk factors per se − would be of interest.