Exploring quality of life in women with severe and enduring anorexia nervosa
Evidence and practice    

Exploring quality of life in women with severe and enduring anorexia nervosa

Laura Schut Nurse specialist and researcher in eating disorders, Emergis, Kloetinge, the Netherlands
Karen Margaret Wright Professor of nursing, School of Nursing, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, England
Jean Ellen Duckworth Senior lecturer, School of Community Health and Midwifery, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To refresh your knowledge of the characteristics of anorexia nervosa

  • To understand the factors that may affect the quality of life of women with severe and enduring anorexia

  • To learn about interventions that could benefit women with severe and enduring anorexia by enhancing their quality of life

Background Anorexia nervosa is a severe psychiatric disorder characterised by starvation and malnutrition. In severe and enduring anorexia nervosa, individuals may be unable to overcome persistent ruminations about their weight, food intake and body shape, so interventions may be required that focus on quality of life rather than on achieving full recovery.

Aim To identify which factors may affect the quality of life of women with severe and enduring anorexia.

Method Constructivist grounded theory was used and semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight women receiving inpatient care for severe and enduring anorexia in a severe eating disorder unit in the Netherlands. Data collection and analysis occurred simultaneously, and theoretical categories with associated properties emerged from this process.

Findings Four theoretical categories were identified: ‘suffering, but not in silence’; ‘one step forward, one step backwards’; ‘connective tissue’; and ‘best friend, best enemy’. The findings emphasised the need to recognise suffering as a continual affect experienced by people with severe and enduring anorexia, as well as the negative effects that the condition has on people’s quality of life, largely due to its inextricable link with their identity. In addition, it was identified that severe and enduring anorexia can significantly affect an individual’s family and friends, and that there is a need for eating disorder services to use an assertive outreach approach.

Conclusion The quality of life of people with severe and enduring anorexia could be enhanced by: education for nurses, patients and families; assertive outreach interventions; the use of therapy dogs; and a structured daily routine that includes social and family activities.

Mental Health Practice. doi: 10.7748/mhp.2021.e1587

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

@kmwright1

Correspondence

moerlandlaura@gmail.com

Conflict of interest

None declared

Schut L, Wright KM, Duckworth JE (2021) Exploring quality of life in women with severe and enduring anorexia nervosa. Mental Health Practice. doi: 10.7748/mhp.2021.e1587

Published online: 07 December 2021

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