“It is the only constant in what feels like a completely upside down and scary world”: Living with an Eating Disorder during COVID-19 and the importance of perceived control for recovery and relapse.

Dawn Branley-Bell, Catherine V. Talbot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound, negative impact on the lives and wellbeing of the population, and it can raise additional challenges for individuals with eating disorders. During early stages of the UK lockdown, individuals reported disruptions to many aspects of their lives, including reduced feelings of control and serious concerns over the impact of the pandemic on eating disorder symptoms and/or recovery. This study compares data from two time points to explore the ongoing impacts of the pandemic on this population. Method: A mixed-methods online survey was developed for the purpose of this study. Data was collected at the two key time points: First, soon after the start of the first UK lockdown (April 2020) and second, as the first lockdown restrictions began to be lifted (June 2020). The sample consisted of 58 individuals currently experiencing, or in recovery from, an eating disorder. Participants were aged between 16-65 years; 57 identified as female, and 1 male. Results: Higher perceptions of general, external control were associated with recovery between the time points. Individuals who experienced less perceived control reported a tendency to rely upon eating disorder behaviours as an auxiliary coping mechanism, i.e., diminished external control was directed inwards and replaced with controlling their own behaviour. Conclusions: Perceived control is a significant factor in eating disorder recovery. As a result of the pandemic’s negative impact upon peoples’ sense of control, individuals with eating disorders are at significant risk of detrimental impacts on their recovery and wellbeing. The results have implications for future treatments based on strengthening individuals’ perceptions of control to promote recovery.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
JournalAppetite
DOIs
Publication statusSubmitted - 29 Jan 2021

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of '“It is the only constant in what feels like a completely upside down and scary world”: Living with an Eating Disorder during COVID-19 and the importance of perceived control for recovery and relapse.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this