Date: 27 Feb 2007

Knowledge and Beliefs about Bulimia Nervosa and its Treatment: A Comparative Study of Three Disciplines

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Poor Mental Health Literacy (MHL), i.e. knowledge and beliefs about bulimia nervosa (BN), among health professionals may contribute to low rates of recognition and less optimal management. The aim of this study was to investigate the BN-MHL of health professionals. A total of 534 professionals selected randomly from Internet based lists were surveyed with a MHL questionnaire regarding a fictional vignette of a woman with BN. One hundred and thirty-six dieticians, 68 psychologists and 97 counselors, total 56% (n = 301) responded. The majority of respondents indicated the woman in the vignette suffered from BN (49%) or an eating disorder (20%) and endorsed evidenced based approaches. On post hoc between group analyses there was a trend (p = .02) for dieticians and psychologists to be more likely than counselors to accurately identify the diagnosis of BN. Dieticians and psychologists were also more likely than counselors to endorse a psychologist as the most helpful treatment provider (p<.001) and to be more likely to endorse cognitive behavioral therapy as the most helpful treatment (p<.001). These results indicate a need for greater training and support for non specialist primary care health professionals.