Dr Foye's PhD was supervised by Prof Diane Hazlett and Dr Pauline Irving
Affecting over 1.6 million people in the UK, eating disorders remain a constant concern for those working in healthcare due to the high comorbidity, debilitating physical symptomology and mortality rates that occur with these illnesses (Herzog, Greenwood, Dorer, Flores, Ekeblad, Richards, Blais & Keller, 2000). Worryingly, treatment efficacy for these disorders remains modest at best, with insufficient evidence existing for the effective treatment of Anorexia Nervosa (NICE, 2004). Successful outcomes are blighted by the high levels of ambivalence, treatment dropouts and relapse rates that are observed within this patient population (Williams & Reid, 2010). As a result these disorders observe high rates of chronicity and become incredibly difficult to treat as they are so deeply engrained (Geller, Williams & Srikameswaran, 2001).
This research study aimed to explore the application of self-esteem, emotional intelligence and health literacy to understand how and why eating disorder might develop while providing insight into how interventions can be developed to enhance outcomes.
Based on a mixed methods design which engaged professionals working with eating disorders, support staff in the community sector and individuals with personal experience, as well a general population sample, the results of the study provided insights into the nature of disordered eating onset and development as well as understanding the barriers that delay and impact on help-seeking processes and treatment engagement for those living with an eating disorder. The result showed that, while numerous factors are related to the development of disordered eating attitudes and behaviours, self-esteem and emotional intelligence interact to provide a significant explanation for how and why individuals may develop and maintain an eating disorder. Furthermore, it was found that these factors along with health literacy may provide considerable insight into the barriers and delays that impact on individual’s help-seeking processes when they are in serious medical and psychological risk.
On her time at Ulster University, Una reflects: