Eating Disorders: An Exploration of their Impact upon Family Relationships
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Previous research suggests that eating disorders can cause strains on relationships within the family unit (Hillege, Beale and MacMaster, 2006). The present study adopted thematic analysis to examine parental communications from online forums in the public domain, regarding the changes in relationships from the perspective of the parents of eating disorder sufferers. Throughout the analysis, four overarching themes were identified; ‘changes in personality’, ‘family sacrifice’, ‘parents ability to cope’, and ‘providing support’. Findings were successful in identifying numerous ways in which family relationships can be impacted by the presence of eating disorder, such as boundaries to communication, and the shift of parental focus amongst siblings. However, the majority of findings were specific to child-parent relationships. Further to this, the present study also presented insights to how the impacts on relationships and effect the family members of sufferers and methods of coping with them. The present study has demonstrated the benefits of utilising internet based discussion forums as a source of data, and it is suggested that future research of this type focuses on other relationships within the family, such as siblings, or the children of sufferers.
BSc (Hons) Psychology
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