Bulimia Nervosa: Professional and lay people's beliefs about the causes

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This study examined the explanatory models of bulimia nervosa (BN) held by members of professionals in the medical, psychological, and alliedhealth fields; the general public; and female university students. The participants (N = 787) were presented with 44 potential causal explanationsfor BN and were asked to rate the importance of each in the development of this condition on a 5-point rating scale ('unimportant' to 'extremelyimportant'). Principal component analysis identified four causal components. These were interpreted as corresponding to (1) socio-culturalpressure, (2) eating and dieting practices, (3) family dynamics, and (4) psychological vulnerability. A high degree of consistency in the meanratings for the four causal components was observed among the professional groups. However, important differences were found between theprofessional and the lay respondents in their beliefs about the role of socio-cultural pressure, eating and dieting practices, and family dynamicsin the development of BN. The congruence in beliefs among the professionals groups would contribute to the ease of interdisciplinarycollaboration required in the multi-modal treatment approach to BN. However, the differences observed between the professional and lay groupsmay have implications for educational and preventative strategies for BN.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-344
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian Psychologist
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


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