Knowledge and attitudes of secondary school students about eating disorders

Postgraduate Thesis uoadl:3257644 99 Read counter

Κατεύθυνση Διασυνδετική Ψυχιατρική και Απαρτιωμένη Φροντίδα Σωματικής και Ψυχικής Υγείας
Library of the School of Health Sciences
Deposit date:
Arnaoutaki Erietta-Christina
Supervisors info:
Ιωάννα Γιαννοπούλου, Αναπληρώτρια Καθηγήτρια, Ιατρική Σχολή, ΕΚΠΑ
Ιωάννης Μιχόπουλος, Καθηγητής, Ιατρική Σχολή, ΕΚΠΑ
Βασιλική Ευσταθίου, Διδάκτωρ, Ιατρική Σχολή, ΕΚΠΑ
Original Title:
Γνώσεις και στάσεις των μαθητών δευτεροβάθμιας εκπαίδευσης για τις διατροφικές διαταραχές
Translated title:
Knowledge and attitudes of secondary school students about eating disorders
BACKROUND: Eating Disorders (EDs), such as anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN) and binge eating disorder (BED) represent a major public health problem due to serious health consequences.
OBJECTIVES: The objective of the study was to assess adolescents’ knowledge of EDs and their attitudes towards individuals with EDs, eating and body image concerns among adolescents and how these impact help-seeking behaviours, which have not been investigated thoroughly so far in Greece.
METHODS: The sample comprised 104 upper secondary school students (58.7% girls, 41.3% boys), aged 15-18 years old. Participants were randomly assigned to read one of five gender neutral vignettes depicting a 15-year-old adolescent presenting with symptoms consistent with AN, BN, BED, depression or Type 1 diabetes (T1D) and were asked to answer multiple choice questions regarding their ED knowledge, feelings about interacting with the target character, perceived personality characteristics and the gender of the target character. Attitudes were explored using an adapted version of the Illness Perception Questionnaire. Furthermore, participants were asked to complete the Eating Attitudes Test (Eat-26) and provide information about their level of body satisfaction and the perceived importance of their appearance, and the frequency with which they engaged in efforts to regulate their body weight or size. Finally, participants were asked about their personal experiences (indirect or direct) with EDs, their own eating and body image concerns, and how they addressed (if at all) these concerns in order to elucidate their help-seeking behaviour patterns.
RESULTS: The symptoms of AN and BN were recognised twice as frequently as of depression and three times as frequently as of T1D. The individual in the AN, BED and depression vignette were mostly interpreted as describing females. Adolescents’ attitudes towards young people with EDs were identified as neutral, i.e. neither favourable or unfavourable, with the exception when it comes to forming close relationships. ED disorder risk (Eat-26 ≥20) was associated with increased body dissatisfaction and concerns about their eating habits. Participants’ preferred pathways of help-seeking for eating concerns revolved mainly around parents and friends, and telephone helpline rather than face-to face contact with mental health professionals.

CONCLUSIONS According to these results, the majority of adolescents are able to identify eating disorders, however, they are not familiar with eating disorders’ terminology. As a consequence, they are used to describe rather than name them exactly. Stigmatizing attitudes concerning adolescents with eating disorders seem to have been reduced in great measure as adolescents result to be neutral than negative towards them. However, due to social stigma adolescents tend to avoid help seeking for eating disorders. It is a fact that body satisfaction reflects to their eating habits and concerns and is related when it is low with a high risk of appearing eating disorders.
It is important to carry out in the future proper interventions for the promotion of mental health wellbeing of young adolescents in order to reenforce their acknowledgement about EDS and enhance their awareness towards adolescents with EDS reducing in total the pre-existing stigma.
Main subject category:
Health Sciences
Adolescents, Eating disorders, Μental health literacy, Attitudes, Stigma
Number of index pages:
Contains images:
Number of references:
Number of pages:
Arnaoutaki Erietta-Christina MSc..pdf (853 KB) Open in new window