Family Work in Anorexia Nervosa: A Qualitative Study of Carers' Experiences of Two Methods of Family Intervention

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Qualitative methods can aid in the development of complex interventions.


Qualitative methodology was used to examine treatment efficacy, carer satisfaction and process of change in carers of people with anorexia nervosa who participated in a randomised controlled trial (RCT) comparing individual family work (IFW) and multi-(dual) family workshops.


Twenty-three carers were interviewed. Themes were developed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA).


Carers who worked with another family described this as beneficial. There was dissatisfaction about a lack of structure perceived in the IFW. Most carers felt the interventions helped them communicate, understand the illness and gain personal and familial insight. Although there was lack of consensus on the most helpful techniques, carers felt sessions should focus on individual relationships and practical guidance for challenging behaviour.


Carers valued structured, skills-based interventions. The inclusion of multiple families may reduce carer blame and isolation and facilitate skills-based learning. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.

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