A framework to conceptualize personal recovery from eating disorders: A systematic review and qualitative meta-synthesis of perspectives from individuals with lived experience

Sara Wetzler, Corinna Hackmann, Guy Peryer, Kelsey Clayman, Donna Friedman, Kristina Saffran, Jody Silver, Margaret Swarbrick, Elizabeth Magill, Eric F. van Furth, Kathleen Pike

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: An extensive literature exists describing treatment interventions and recovery from eating disorders (EDs); however, this body of knowledge is largely symptom-based and from a clinical perspective and thus limited in capturing perspectives and values of individuals with lived experience of an ED. In this study, we performed a systematic review to coproduce a conceptual framework for personal recovery from an ED based on primary qualitative data available in published literature. Methods: A systematic review and qualitative meta-synthesis approach was used. Twenty studies focusing on ED recovery from the perspective of individuals with lived experience were included. The studies were searched for themes describing the components of personal recovery. All themes were analyzed and compared to the established connectedness; hope and optimism about the future; identity; meaning in life; and empowerment (CHIME) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) frameworks of recovery, which are applicable to all mental disorders. Themes were labeled and organized into a framework outlining key components of the ED personal recovery process. Results: Supportive relationships, hope, identity, meaning and purpose, empowerment, and self-compassion emerged as the central components of the recovery process. Symptom recovery and its relationship to the personal recovery process are also significant. Discussion: Individuals with lived experience of EDs noted six essential elements in the personal ED recovery process. This framework is aligned with several of the key components of the CHIME and SAMHSA frameworks of recovery, incorporating person-centered elements of the recovery process. Future research should validate these constructs and develop instruments (or tools) that integrate the lived experiences into a measurement of recovery from an ED.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1188-1203
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number8
Early online date17 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • eating disorders
  • framework
  • meta-analysis
  • qualitative research
  • recovery
  • systematic review

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