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Rates of Help-Seeking in US Adults With Lifetime DSM-5 Eating Disorders: Prevalence Across Diagnoses and Differences by Sex and Ethnicity/Race

      Abstract

      Objective

      To investigate, in a nationally representative sample of US adults, the prevalence of help-seeking in individuals with Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) eating disorders (EDs) and to examine sex and ethnic/racial differences.

      Patients and Methods

      The 2012-2013 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III (N=36,309) included respondents who met the criteria for specific lifetime DSM-5 EDs and answered questions regarding help-seeking for their ED symptoms (anorexia nervosa [AN]: n=275; bulimia nervosa [BN]: n=91; and binge-eating disorder [BED]: n=256).

      Results

      The prevalence (standard error) estimates of ever seeking any help for AN, BN, and BED were 34.5% (2.80%), 62.6% (5.36%), and 49.0% (3.74%), respectively. Adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, men and ethnic/racial minorities (non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics) were statistically significantly less likely to ever seek help for BED than were women or non-Hispanic whites, respectively. Hispanics also were significantly less likely to seek help for AN relative to non-Hispanic whites.

      Conclusion

      This was the first study in a nationally representative sample of US adults to examine rates of help-seeking, including by sex and ethnic/racial differences, across DSM-5–defined EDs. These findings emphasize the need to develop strategies to encourage help-seeking among individuals with EDs, particularly among men and ethnic/racial minorities.

      Abbreviations and Acronyms:

      AN (anorexia nervosa), AUDADIS-5 (Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule-5), BED (binge-eating disorder), BN (bulimia nervosa), CPES (Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiological Studies), DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition), ED (eating disorder), NESARC-III (National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III)
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      Linked Article

      • Our Eating Disorders Blind Spot: Sex and Ethnic/Racial Disparities in Help-Seeking for Eating Disorders
        Mayo Clinic ProceedingsVol. 94Issue 8
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          In the current issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Coffino et al1 present the results of the largest population-based study of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Revision (DSM-5) eating disorders to date. The researchers found discouragingly low rates of help-seeking behavior in adults with anorexia nervosa (AN) (34.5%), bulimia nervosa (62.6%), and binge eating disorder (BED) (49.0%). Because these authors defined help-seeking broadly, and included not only seeing a doctor, counselor, or therapist about eating or weight but also modalities such as chat rooms and support groups, it is unlikely that many individuals sought and received evidence-based treatment.
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