How do people with eating disorders experience the stigma associated with their condition? A mixed-methods systematic review
Public opinion research shows that eating disorders (EDs) are a major target of stigmatisation. To understand the implications of this stigma, research investigating how stigma is experienced by individuals with EDs is critical. Aim: This paper aims to collate, evaluate and synthesise the extant empirical research illuminating how people with EDs experience the stigma associated with their condition. Method: A systematic mixed-methods literature search was performed. Articles that met a
... that met a specified set of inclusion criteria underwent a quality assessment and thematic synthesis. Results: Twenty-nine articles were included in the review. Studies were mostly qualitative and of reasonable methodological quality. The literature was characterised by five research themes, illuminating (i) the nature and prevalence of stigma experienced, (ii) stigma in families, (iii) stigma in healthcare contexts, (iv) self-stigmatisation and illness concealment, and (v) stigma resistance. Conclusions: The reviewed research showed that people with EDs have extensive experience of stigma in diverse settings. They report that stigma has negative implications for their psychological wellbeing and likelihood of help-seeking. However, research also shows that people with EDs actively seek to resist and challenge stigma. The review identifies the outstanding gaps and weaknesses in this literature.