What knowledge do patients have about the physical consequences of their eating disorder?




A poor knowledge of the physical consequences or health risks of an eating disorder may be a sign of denial or minimization of the problem linked to a poor willingness to change.


Testing the knowledge of eating disorder patients about the physical consequences of their disorder and whether this can be improved by means of a psychoeducational program.


Shortly after admission to a specialized inpatient eating disorder unit, a total of 66 female patients filled out a questionnaire with 20 items testing their knowledge about physical aspects of eating disorders. After about one month, 40 patients repeated the assessment. In between, they had received some psychoeducation in the form of an interactive group session and a special brochure.


The average knowledge was rather good (14 correct answers on a total of 20 questions), although a considerable number answered “I don’t know” on 11 questions. The majority of these switched to correct answers after 1 month leading to a significant improvement of the general knowledge (on average 17/20), independently of the subtype of eating disorder. One question turned out to elicit the greatest number of incorrect answers: ‘As long as a woman does not menstruate, she cannot get pregnant in a natural way’.


Assessing the (insufficient) knowledge about the physical consequences of an eating disorder may serve as the starting point for a specific psychoeducation, which can have an impact on the motivational process in these patients.


Eating disorders Physical consequences Patients’ knowledge Psychoeducation 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alexian Brothers Psychiatric HospitalTienenBelgium

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