Key stakeholder perspectives on primary care for young people with an eating disorder: A qualitative study

Helen Malson, Irmgard Tischner, Hugh Herzig, Danielle Kitney, Catherine Phillipps, Sanni Norweg, Jasmine Moon, Su Holmes, Katie Wild, Rosie Oldham-Cooper

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This paper examines the provision of primary care for young people with an eating disorder within the UK from the perspectives of three key stakeholder groups: young people with an eating disorder, carers of young people with an eating disorder and General Practitioners (GPs). 22 young people with an eating disorder (aged 16-25) and 10 carers completed qualitative questionnaires or participated in interviews about their experiences of seeking primary care from GPs. 41 GPs participated in either focus groups or interviews about delivering care to young people with eating disorders. Interviews and focus groups were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. All data were then analysed qualitatively using thematic analysis. Our analysis indicates that GPs often felt they lacked the necessary knowledge and/or resources to provide adequate support to young people with an eating disorder who they also often viewed as a ‘difficult’ patient group. Young people and carers expressed mixed but predominantly negative experiences, reporting that GPs often lacked adequate understanding of eating disorder, failed to take participants’ concerns seriously and delayed referring patients to specialist services. Our findings indicate a need for interventions that will improve primary care provision and access to appropriate support for young people with an eating disorder.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-301
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date5 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Eating disorders
  • Carers
  • Young people
  • General Practitioners
  • Primary Care
  • general practitioners
  • primary care
  • eating disorders
  • qualitative research
  • young people
  • carers

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