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Eating disorders: challenges in the later phases of the recovery process

A qualitative study of patients’ experiences

Authors

  • Gunn Pettersen PhD,

    (Associate Professor)
    1. Department of Health and Care Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway
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  • Kari-Brith Thune-Larsen MSc,

    (Clinical Psychologist)
    1. Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Regional Eating Disorders Service (RASP), Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
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  • Rolf Wynn MD, PhD,

    (Professor)
    1. Department of Addition and Specialised Psychiatric Services, University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, Norway
    2. Department of Clinical Medicine, Telemedicine Research Group, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway
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  • Jan H. Rosenvinge PhD

    (Professor)
    1. Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway
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Gunn Pettersen, Department of Health and Care Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsø, N-9037, Tromsø, Norway.
E-mail: gunn.pettersen@unn.no

Abstract

Scand J Caring Sci; 2013; 27; 92–98

Eating disorders: challenges in the later phases of the recovery process

Little is known about how patients experience the later recovery phases of eating disorders. The aim of this study was to describe such experiences using an explorative and descriptive design based on content analysis. Thirteen female patients participated in qualitative interviews. The analysis resulted in four main categories, that is, (i) realising negative consequences, (ii) searching for alternative coping, (iii) searching for normality and identity and (iv) accepting the losses. The categories represent normal psychological processes related to grief, commitment and reconciliation. Such processes may be functionally or dysfunctionally resolved. The clinical implication is that patients in the later recovery phases may need professional help or counselling to accomplish a functional resolving. While in the initial phases of illness and recovery, a focus is on controlling symptoms and the changing of overvalued ideas about weight and shape, therapy in the later recovery phases should focus on the psychological management of the challenges represented in the four categories resulting from the present study.

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