Oral health and individuals with a lived experience of an eating disorder: a qualitative study
Journal of Eating Disorders
Background: Limited evidence exists describing the impact to oral health when living with an eating disorder and the availability of information or access to oral health services. This study investigated the perceptions of individuals with a lived experience of an eating disorder specifically to understand their needs and recommendations for improving access to early intervention and oral health promotion. Methods: Using purposive sampling a total of 12 semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants across Australia who had a lived experience of an eating disorder. A hybrid inductive and deductive approach to thematic analysis was used to construct salient themes and subthemes. Results: Most participants had experienced some oral health manifestation as part of their eating disorder hence, many felt quite knowledgeable on the topic. Following their eating disorder many participants felt confident in engaging with dental services, although, barriers including embarrassment, shame, and cost compromised access at times. Participants felt strongly that greater emphasis on oral health promotion during an eating disorder was important and this may be achieved by increasing the availability of resources and using trusted non-dental health professionals like dietitians. Conclusions: The need for oral health promotion while experiencing an eating disorder was evident, however, dentists can often be a costly option. Non-dental health professionals like dietitians working with clients with an eating disorder may be an acceptable alternative for closing this gap.
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