The experiences of males supporting a partner with anorexia nervosa

About the research

Anorexia nervosa affects approximately 1% young women, men and their families. However, there is a lack of provision of specialist eating disorder services within the UK to support sufferers and their supporters (including family and friends). Supporters of individuals with eating disorders often experience high levels of stress and anxiety. However, little research has been conducted into what it is like to care for an individual with an eating disorder. Where research has been conducted it usually concentrates on the experiences of parents who have a child with anorexia nervosa; as the disorder is often perceived as mainly affecting children and adolescents. However, many individuals with anorexia nervosa still experience eating problems into their adult life where the support role may be taken over by their boyfriends, husbands and partners. The experience of caring for a partner with anorexia may however be very different from that of a parent. This research will allow males supporting a partner who has a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa to discuss their experiences.

Who can take part?

We are looking to recruit males over the age of 18 who are resident in the UK and who are supporting a partner who has anorexia nervosa. It does not matter what level or type of support you are currently giving to your partner. What matters is if you are willing to talk about your personal thoughts, feelings and opinions regarding your experiences of supporting your partner.

Your involvement

We would like to interview you to find out what your experiences of supporting your partner who has anorexia nervosa are. This interview will last approximately 30-60 minutes and will help us to gain information and insight into your thoughts, feelings and experiences regarding your experiences. Questions may ask about the history of your partner’s disorder, your experiences of the treatment process, your role in supporting your partner and any support you have received from others; however the interview will essentially be guided by your experiences. You will be informed at the beginning of the interview that you are free to refuse to answer any questions that you do not wish to discuss and that you can terminate the interview at any time.

What to do next

Before you decide whether you wish to participate in this research, it is important for you to find out more about what it will involve, why it is important and your rights as a participant.

You can find out more about the study and how to take part by contacting the lead researcher Louise Ewan on the details listed below.

Contact details:

Email: [email protected]
Tel: 0141 211 2054 (please ask for Louise)


“I had consistently been losing weight for more than 8 months and had become accustomed to eating very little. This triggered a return of my anorexia, after a 20-year period of recovery. SWEDA were able to offer me an appointment the very next day. When we met I was feeling very ill and frightened.I spoke to them about my fears, but then took the decision to go to my doctor on the way home. I was admitted to hospital within a few days.”

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