Educating medical students about anorexia nervosa: A potential method for reducing the volitional stigma associated with the disorder

Amy Bannatyne*, Peta Stapleton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
75 Downloads (Pure)


It is frequently reported that clinicians across a range of professional disciplines experience strong negative reactions toward patients with anorexia nervosa (AN). The present study aimed to develop, evaluate, and compare the effectiveness of two different educational programs, based on an etiological framing model. Participants were medical students (N = 41) from an Australian University, who were randomly assigned to one of three conditions (biogenetic intervention vs. multifactorial intervention vs. control). Outcome attitudinal/stigma data were collected pre- and post-intervention, and at 8 weeks follow-up. Results indicated intervention participations exhibited significantly lower volitional stigma scores compared to the control group, who exhibited no change in attitudes or stigma. Specifically, intervention participants had significantly lower total ED stigma scores, levels of blame, perceptions of AN as a selfish/vain illness, and viewed sufferers as less responsible for their illness at post-intervention. These reductions were maintained at follow-up. Overall, the study provides preliminary evidence that brief targeted interventions can assist in reducing levels of volitional stigma toward AN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-133
Number of pages19
JournalEating Disorders
Issue number2
Early online date2014
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2015


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