Care for Caregivers

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
May/June 2006 Volume 17, Number 3
©2006 Gürze Books

Little is known about the impact of caring for a person with an eating disorder. When Astrid Mueller, MD and colleagues at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany, surveyed 34 caregivers, they found that many needed support for their own stresses.

The authors administered the General Health Questionnaire and the German translation of the Carers’ Needs Assessment Measure (CaNAM) to 34 caregivers. In addition, all patients were interviewed with the Eating Disorder Examination (EDE) to assess the severity of their eating disorder.

Most needed more information, better support

Sixteen patients had anorexia nervosa and 18 had bulimia nervosa, and the mean duration of illness was 6 years. Most of the caregivers were mothers or partners. All reported having high levels of unsatisfied needs on the CaNAM, including a need for more information about treatment, prognosis, and plans for future treatment.

Most of the caregivers also asked for more support for themselves. The authors note that caregivers themselves have high levels of distress that may be overlooked. The researchers reported their findings at the Eating Disorders Research Society Meeting last fall.

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