Publication details

Internet Usage by Women with Eating Disorders during Illness and Recovery



Year of publication 2020
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Health Communication
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Keywords eating disorders; anorexia nervosa; bulimia nervosa; the internet; motivation
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Description Internet usage may have both positive and negative impacts on people with eating disorders. In research to date, most of the focus has been put on the harms connected with platforms that support people in continuing their disorder. Less studied have been the benefits of other technology platforms used by people with eating disorders. When these different platforms were investigated, users were rarely interviewed about their experience. To fill this gap, we conducted 30 interviews with participants aged 16 to 28, all female, living in the Czech Republic. The interviews focused on their experiences with the harmful and helpful impacts of the internet on the course of their eating disorders. The data were analyzed via thematic analysis. The results provided insight into the participants’ experience with the following online environments: 1) nonprofessional pro-eating disorder platforms; 2) nonprofessional pro-recovery platforms; 3) social networking sites (SNS); 4) platforms for counting calories and setting weight goals; 5) platforms about food, exercise, and lifestyle; and 6) platforms providing professional help. The participants noted many benefits these platforms could provide; however, their ability to achieve the benefits was affected by their motivation for treatment. As a result, even platforms designed to support recovery could be used for illness maintenance. The results are discussed in the context of research on the changing motivations for recovery in people with eating disorders and the theory of different processes connected to the course of the eating disorders according to the differential interactivity of digital platforms.
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