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Inpatient experience of anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa (AN) is an extremely serious mental illness, with a high mortality rate and many debilitating physical and psychological symptoms. While hospitalisation is sometimes required for patients with AN there remains no evidence base for "best practice' inpatient treatment. With patients' views recognised as critical to improving efficiency and outcomes, calls have been made for more qualitative research into inpatients' experiences. In light of this the current paper utilised thematic analysis to examine 16 semi-structured interviews with inpatients diagnosed with AN, at a specialised eating disorders hospital unit. The study found an overarching theme of relationship ambivalence in connection with sub-themes of patients' eating disorders, eating disorder co-patients, staff and treatment. Participants' goals in relationship to their eating disorder and engagement in treatment shaped and were shaped by interactions with other inpatients with AN and staff. Clinical implications for this study and future research directions are discussed.

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Correspondence to Rachael Bellair.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Bellair, R., Patterson, S. & Strodl, E. Inpatient experience of anorexia nervosa. J Eat Disord 2 (Suppl 1), P5 (2014).

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