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Tvp19 11omslag kijk verder

Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 54 (2012) 9, 823 - 828

Short report

How much do patients know about the possible physical consequences of their eating disorder?

W. Vandereycken, L. Aerts, E. Dierckx

background A lack of knowledge about the physical consequences of an eating disorder can be a sign that the patient either denies that there is a problem or minimises the problem; this can result in the patient being reluctant or unwilling to be treated.
aim To find out how much patients know about the possible physical consequences of (or the risks involved in) their eating disorder and to check whether they know considerably more after some psycho-education.
method Sixty-six female patients completed a questionnaire shortly after being admitted to a specialised eating-disorder unit and 44 patients completed the same questionnaire after about a month. In the intervening period patients received some psycho-education about the possible physical consequences of eating disorders. The psycho-education took the form of an interactive group session and a brochure of information.
results In general, the patients’ knowledge about possible consequences of their illness was reasonably satisfactory (on average, 14 out of 20 questions were correct), although a considerable number of patients answered 11 questions with ‘I don’t know’. In the second round there was a considerable decrease in the number of ‘I don’t know’ answers, showing that after a month patients’ knowledge had improved (17 out of 20 patients now gave positive answers); the answers were independent of the type of eating disorder. One question in particular elicited the largest number of uncertain or incorrect answers, even in the second round; the question was: ‘Can a woman who has never menstruated become pregnant?’
conclusion It is advisable to assess, in a systematic way, whether patients have adequate knowledge about the physical consequences of an eating disorder. Gaps in patients’ knowledge or misunderstandings can then serve as a starting point for a specific type of psycho-education.

keywords eating disorders, physical consequences, patients’ knowledge, psycho-education