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Kaestner, Denise; Weigel, Angelika; Buchholz, Ines; Voderholzer, Ulrich; Loewe, Bernd and Gumz, Antje (2021): Facilitators and barriers in anorexia nervosa treatment initiation: a qualitative study on the perspectives of patients, carers and professionals. In: Journal of Eating Disorders, Vol. 9, No. 1, 28

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Background: An early psychotherapeutic treatment of anorexia nervosa (AN) is crucial for a good prognosis. In order to improve treatment initiation, knowledge about facilitators and barriers to treatment is needed. Objective: Against this background, we aimed to identify facilitators and barriers from the perspectives of patients, carers and professionals using a qualitative approach. Method: To this end, semi-structured interviews were conducted in triads of female patients with AN aged 14 years and older at the beginning of their first psychotherapeutic treatment, their carers, and referring health care professionals. A modified Grounded Theory approach was used for analysis. Results: In total, 22 interviews were conducted (n = 6 adults, n = 4 adolescents, 4 full triads). The duration of untreated AN ranged between 30 days and 25.85 years (M = 3.06 +/- 8.01 years). A wide spectrum of facilitators and barriers within the patient, the social environment, the health care system and the society were identified. Most prominent factors were 'recognizing and addressing' by close others, 'waiting times and availability' and 'recommendations and referrals' by health care professionals. 'Positive role models for treatment' were perceived as a specific facilitative social influence. Facilitators were more frequently mentioned than barriers and most of the factors seem to hold potential for modifiability. Conclusion: Overall, the findings suggest that early intervention approaches for AN should not only address patients and the health care system, but may also involve carers and successfully treated former patients.

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