1. Hayman, Laura L. PhD, RN, FAAN
  2. Callister, Lynn Clark PhD, RN, FAAN

Article Content

Weaver, K., Wuest, J., & Ciliska, D. (2005).Qualitative Health Research, 15(2), 188-206.


Using feminist methods to explore the perceptions of 12 women recovering from anorexia nervosa, a grounded theory was generated that provides a self-development model for recovery from this eating disorder, moving from perilous self-soothing ("not knowing myself and losing myself to an obsession") to informed self-care (including "taking care of myself" and "celebrating myself"). Self-soothing included behaviors in addition to eating disorder symptoms such as bingeing, smoking, and suicide attempts, which are risk-taking behaviors in and of themselves. The only positive self-soothing behavior was reflection. Listening to the voices of women suffering from this disorder is imperative. Interventions that focus on the strengths of these women seem to be more effective, because women "finding themselves" seems to be the turning point-study participants spoke of "seeing the big picture," "encountering self," and "getting everything on my shoulders" as they assume responsibility for overcoming anorexia nervosa. "Celebrating myself" occurs when the woman is at peace with who and what she is and moves from being a victim to being an active participant in a healthy lifestyle, including restructuring relationships and having an enhanced sense of self-worth.


Findings from this study document that women's recovery from anorexia nervosa is impaired when there is a lack of social or therapeutic support. It is suggested that care should be focused on self-definition and skills development rather than setting weight goals and monitoring dietary intake. More research is needed to explore women's perceptions of institutionally based care to provide outcomes-focused data for clinicians and health policy makers that can inform prevention and recovery efforts. This explanatory framework demonstrates the utility of qualitative inquiry in making a difference in women's health.


Comment by Lynn Clark Callister