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Stigma and eating disorders: Is there evidence of negative attitudes towards anorexia nervosa among women in the community?


Mond, JM and Robertson-Smith, G and Vetere, A, Stigma and eating disorders: Is there evidence of negative attitudes towards anorexia nervosa among women in the community?, Journal of Mental Health, 15, (5) pp. 519-532. ISSN 0963-8237 (2006) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2006 Shadowfax Publishing and Informa UK Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1080/09638230600902559


Background and aims: Few studies have examined stigma towards individuals affected by eating disorders. The aim of this study was to elucidate negative attitudes concerning the eating disorder anorexia nervosa (AN).

Method: A vignette describing a fictional 15-year-old female meeting diagnostic criteria for AN was presented to 250 female university students, followed by a series of questions designed to assess perceptions of severity, self-centredness, contribution to society, social distance and desirability. Participants’ levels of eating disorder psychopathology and familiarity with the problem described were also assessed.

Results: Whereas attitudes were generally positive, negative attitudes were apparent in responses to items addressing self-centredness and social distance. In addition, many participants had at some stage thought that it ‘‘might not be too bad’’ to have the problem described. Exposure to information concerning the problem described through film or television was associated with less negative attitudes, whereas other types of exposure had little or no effect.

Conclusions: Negative attitudes towards individuals affected by AN exist among women in the community, as well as ambivalence concerning the severity of the disorder. Further research is needed to identify the nature of stigma associated with eating disorders and the variables that moderate its expression.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Stigma, Eating disorders, Anorexia nervosa
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Mental health services
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Mental health
UTAS Author:Mond, JM (Dr Jon Mond)
ID Code:117974
Year Published:2006
Deposited By:UTAS Centre for Rural Health
Deposited On:2017-06-29
Last Modified:2017-11-13

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