Exploring the lived experience of an eating disorder: a qualitative analysis

Coopey, Emily (2020). Exploring the lived experience of an eating disorder: a qualitative analysis. University of Birmingham. Clin.Psy.D.

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Chapter 1: Literature Review

“The male elephant in the room”: A Qualitative Evidence Synthesis Exploring Male Experiences of Eating Disorders.


The qualitative evidence synthesis aimed to explore the qualitative literature relating to male experiences of an Eating Disorder, in order to synthesise the findings and offer a transcendent understanding of the existing literature.

Clearly defined search strategies were applied to multiple databases in order to enable a systematic search of the literature. Strict inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied to the findings resulting in 12 papers deemed suitable for inclusion. A Meta-Ethnographic approach to synthesising the data was undertaken.

Four themes were identified: ‘Societal Construction of the Perfect Male’, ‘Striving to Maintain a Masculine Identity’, ‘The Interconnectedness of Control and Self-Worth’ and ‘The Hidden Man’. There appeared to be an underlying concept relating to the conflict of being male, with what is perceived to be a female illness and how this challenged an individual’s masculinity, as well as challenging wider societal concepts.

Societal constructions, combined with both internal and external conflict in relation to societal expectations and gender norms intensified the male experience of an Eating Disorder. The male experience of an Eating Disorder occurred in the context of societal assumptions, which enabled the illness to remain hidden. The notion of a female illness and gendered norms further compounded the experience of males in terms of maintaining masculine norms and fitting societal ideals. To enable a shift in the male experience of an Eating Disorder change needs to be implemented at varying levels.

Chapter 2: Empirical Paper

Exploring the Experience of Young People Receiving Treatment for an Eating Disorder: Family Therapy for Anorexia Nervosa and Multi-Family Therapy in an Inpatient Setting.


Research indicates that Family Therapy for Anorexia Nervosa (FT-AN) and Multi-Family Therapy (MFT) are effective treatments for adolescents experiencing Anorexia Nervosa (AN). However, less is known about young people’s experiences of these two treatments, as there is limited qualitative research. Furthermore, to date there is no qualitative research exploring their experience of these two treatments in an inpatient setting.

Five young people were recruited to the study from an inpatient unit who were receiving treatment on the AN pathway which included both FT-AN and MFT. Semi structured interviews were undertaken and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA).

Four superordinate themes and twelve subthemes were developed from the data. The four superordinate themes were: ‘Process of Understanding’, ‘Reviving Connection’, ‘Emerging from the Eating Disorder and ‘Development of I’.

There appeared to be two overarching concepts: the role of the individual and the role of others. The superordinate themes ‘Emerging from the Eating Disorder’ and ‘Development of I’ focussed on the development of the individual. Conversely, the superordinate themes ‘The Process of Understanding’ and ‘Reviving Connection’ were centred on the familial relationships existing within the family system.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Clin.Psy.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Clin.Psy.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/10958


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