The role of self-reliance and denial in the help-seeking process for eating disorders among university students

Esme Fabry, Daniel B. Fassnacht, Rachael Ford, Nicholas R. Burns, Anne E. O'Shea, Kathina Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Objective: This study investigated how self-reliance and denial influence the relationship between help-seeking attitudes and behaviour. 

Method: Australian university students (N = 406) completed an online survey and females with elevated eating disorder (ED) concerns and high impairment were included in the study (N = 137). Participants completed measures of help-seeking attitudes, perceived barriers, and actual help-seeking behaviour. Via moderated logistic regression, we examined self-reliance and denial as perceived barriers to help-seeking. 

Results: Of the total sample, over 33.7% of university students reported substantial ED concerns and impairment of whom 65.0% believed they needed help. While a majority reported that help-seeking would be useful (85.4%), only a minority of participants had sought professional help for their concerns (38.7%). Self-reliance and denial were frequently endorsed barriers and moderated the relationship between help-seeking attitudes and behaviours. 

Conclusion: ED concerns are common among university students and perceived barriers play a moderating role between attitudes and help-seeking. Future prevention and early intervention programs should address students' denial, while the importance of reaching out for professional help (rather than relying on themselves) could be highlighted with peer support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)450-457
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Eating Disorders Review
Volume32
Issue number3
Early online date11 Dec 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2024

Keywords

  • barriers
  • denial
  • eating disorders
  • help-seeking
  • treatment-seeking
  • university students
  • young adults

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