Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

David M. Stein


David M. Stein


Mary E. Doty


Carolyn Barcus


Elwin Nielsen


Gary S. Straquadine


Eating-disorder clients show low motivation, poor follow-through, and inordinate premature dropout rates in treatment. To date, little research has been conducted that might provide clinicians with an understanding of the critical factors that may aid clients' recovery. Such factors may be used by clinicians to better motivate clients to collaborate in treatment. The purpose of this study was to identify some of the critical factors that women with eating disorders believed were crucial in prompting or facilitating their recovery. Identification of these factors was accomplished through a systematic content analysis of semistructured interviews with recovered or recovering bulimics and anorexics. This study may contribute significantly to future research into the development of motivational supplements to eating disorder therapy ( e.g., psychoeducational materials or therapy orientation programs). Of interest were what personal, interpersonal, or environmental factors anorexic and bulimic clients reported increased their motivation to recover, and prompted them to begin the recovery process, maintain recovery, and cope with the threat of relapse. Also, factors that subjects reported hindered their progress in recovery were examined.

The anorexic and bulimic subjects reported social support as a critical factor across three stages of recovery, including beginning recovery, maintaining recovery, and coping with relapse. Being "tired" of the disorder and therapy were indicated to be relevant to beginning recovery. Improved self-esteem was deemed significant in helping subjects both maintain recovery and cope with the threat of relapse. Establishing healthy eating habits and attitudes was a necessary factor required to maintain recovery. Subjects shared that developing healthy ways to deal with emotions enabled them to deal successfully with the threat of relapse.

Anorexic subjects reported that people and societal expectations, fear of becoming fat, incentive to numb emotions, and poor eating habits and attitudes impeded their recovery. Bulimic subjects indicated that people and societal expectations, incentive to numb emotions, lack of understanding, and poor eating habits and attitudes hindered their recovery.



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