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J Health Psychol. 2006 Mar;11(2):283-96.

An interpretative phenomenological analysis of participation in a pro-anorexia internet site and its relationship with disordered eating.

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  • 1Queen Margaret University College, UK.


Pro-anorexia Internet sites aim to promote, support and discuss anorexia nervosa. Media coverage has raised concerns that sites may increase the level of eating disorders. This research examines the meaning of participation in a pro-anorexia Internet site and its relationship with disordered eating by using an interpretative phenomenological analysis of fifteen separate message 'threads' followed over a six-week period. Four themes were identified: (1) tips and techniques; (2) 'ana' v. anorexia nervosa; (3) social support; and (4) need for anorexia. Findings suggest participation was multi-purpose, providing a coping function in relation to weight loss, and the contribution of sites to increased levels of eating disorders is not inevitable.

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