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Int J Eat Disord. 2003 Mar;33(2):205-12.

Ethnicity and differential access to care for eating disorder symptoms.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA. abecker@partners.org

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The impact of ethnicity on access to health care for eating disorder symptoms among participants in the 1996 National Eating Disorders Screening Program (NEDSP) was examined in two studies.

METHOD:

Self-report and clinician-assessed data were analyzed from 9,069 participants in an educational and two-stage screening program for eating disorders in Study I. In Study II, both cross-sectional and prospective data from a randomly selected sample of 289 participants from the same program were analyzed to investigate the impact of ethnic minority status on both help-seeking patterns and clinician referral patterns for eating disorder symptoms.

RESULTS:

Even after controlling for severity of self-reported eating disorder symptoms, both Latino and Native American participants in the NEDSP were significantly less likely than Whites to receive a recommendation or referral for further evaluation or care. Ethnic minority subjects with self-acknowledged eating and weight concerns were also significantly less likely than non-minority participants to have been asked by a doctor about eating disorder symptoms. Only one marginally significant difference was found between ethnic minority and non-minority respondents with respect to their help-seeking behaviors, namely, ethnic minority subjects were less likely (at the level of a trend) to seek eating disorders treatment within 1(1/2)-2 years following the NEDSP.

DISCUSSION:

These data suggest that clinician bias may be an important barrier to access to care for eating disorder symptoms in ethnic minority populations.

Copyright 2003 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

PMID:
12616587
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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