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Int J Eat Disord. 2012 Mar;45(2):241-6. doi: 10.1002/eat.20916. Epub 2011 Apr 6.

Mealtimes on eating disorder wards: a two-study investigation.

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  • 1University Centre for Research into Eating Disorders, Brockington Building Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, UK.



This research had two aims. First, to assess the current mealtime practices within UK eating disorders units. Second, to investigate staff perspectives of these mealtimes, including their involvement and understanding of patients' experience.


Study 1 involved a survey to assess mealtime protocols across 22 eating disorders units. In Study 2, sixteen semistructured interviews were conducted with staff at three eating disorders units.


Between and within-unit variation exist regarding the implementation of mealtimes. Thematic analysis revealed that staff perceived their provision of mealtimes to be influenced by their own interpersonal difficulties created by the meals. Additionally, they perceived that these issues could be aided by forward planning, successful teamwork, and focused staff training.


There is a need for specialized mealtime implementation training. Furthermore, research is required to evaluate current mealtime practices from patient perspectives and to determine the impact of modified mealtime approaches on treatment outcome.

Copyright © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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