The potential of the internet in researching and treating anorexia nervosa.

This source preferred by Sarah Muir

Authors: Williams, S.

Start date: 15 October 2009

The physical anonymity that the internet offers is of particular benefit for those who experience stigmatised and often misunderstood mental health disorders. This anonymity is especially important for those who also have body image issues, such as those who experience anorexia nervosa. People with anorexia nervosa often use online resources such as pro-anorexia websites and recovery forums to communicate and manage their disorder. This poster will discuss the capability of the internet for carring out research and its potential use for intervention purposes with this population by reflecting upon online qualitative research with those who use these websites. Participants in the online study expressed how the physical anonymity of the online environment allowed them to feel more comfortable discussing their views and experiences. The asynchronous nature of the communication also provided an opportunity for participants to explore and reflect on their meanings of anorexia and the recovery process. Online interventions appear particularly appropriate for those with anorexia nervosa as immediate access to the internet can be beneficial for those experiencing low motivation for change. Furthermore, it can offer an intervention for those who cannot access traditional face-to-face therapy because of long waiting lists, financial issues or a lack of professional services in the area. The fact that many with anorexia already utilise the internet for support suggests the need for future research to examine the efficacy of online interventions with this population.

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