The challenges and benefits of Remote Support for Eating Disorders throughout COVID-19: Perspectives from service providers in the not-for-profit sector in England, UK

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The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has necessitated a rapid migration to remote online services for eating disorders treatment and support. This has proved challenging for organisations within the not-for-profit sector. This preliminary study explores the experiences of not-for-profit eating disorders organisations in England (UK) that have adapted to the challenges of providing remote support during the pandemic. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with professionals working across 3 charities in England and 2 individuals with lived experience of eating disorders and experience of co-delivering online peer support for a not-for-profit organisation. Interviews focused on; the challenges and benefits of providing remote healthcare;key times during the pandemic when their service was most needed; how the pandemic impacted on their service users’ or peers’ wellbeing; and future recommendations for remote care. Reflexive Thematic Analysis was used to analyse the data. 3 final themes were generated: continuing support and widening access; home as therapeutic space; the impact of statutory and public health sector responses to COVID-19. Key findings were that whilst online support has offered a lifeline for service users, the home as a therapeutic environment proved a challenge, together with the impact of the reduction of statutory support available and the resulting increase on the demand for the not-for-profit sector’s capacity to deliver. All providers stated that they plan to continue to offer remote support as a complement to – and not replacement for - face-to-face services. Further research is recommended to explore the longer-term implications for not-for-profit sector service providers in providing future remote support for eating disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCharlottesville, US
PublisherCenter for Open Science
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2022

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