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Int J Eat Disord. 2012 Dec;45(8):932-41. doi: 10.1002/eat.22033. Epub 2012 Jun 21.

Preferred therapist characteristics in treatment of anorexia nervosa: the patient's perspective.

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  • 1Division of Mental Health, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway.



Previous research in eating disorders suggests that treatment satisfaction is closely related to the manner in which care is delivered. The present research is a systematic in depth study of health professional characteristics preferred by AN-patients.


Thirty-eight women with AN aged 18-51 were interviewed in depth using a phenomenological study design. Interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using the QSR-NVivo7 software program.


Four factors associated with patients' satisfaction with their therapists were identified: "acceptance," "vitality," "challenge," and "expertise." Patients' responses suggested that treatment of AN requires therapists who are capable of using a complex set of behaviors when interacting with their patients.


There is accumulating evidence that across treatment modality, the manner in which treatment is delivered is critical to therapeutic change. Our findings increase the understanding of factors that may be associated with treatment retention, further help seeking, and overall treatment outcome. These exploratory and informant-centered results could guide clinicians in developing a strong therapeutic alliance with AN-patients and promote increased knowledge about the mechanisms that engage this population.

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