Considering the role of physical therapists within the treatment and rehabilitation of individuals with eating disorders: a survey of expert clinicians

Andrew Soundy, Brendon Stubbs, Michel Probst, Amanda Lundvik Gyllensten, Liv Helvik Skjaerve, Daniel Catalán-Matamoros, Davy Vancampfort

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1 Citation (Scopus)
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Abstract

Purpose Recent research has demonstrated that physical therapy may benefit the physical and mental health of people with eating disorders (EDs). Because this is a new and developing field, this study aimed to investigate the experience, practices and knowledge of international physical therapy experts to inform clinical practice, education and research. Methods An international cross-sectional survey design was undertaken with experienced physical therapists within the field of EDs. Physical therapist responses were analysed with descriptive statistics and thematic analysis as appropriate. Results Twenty-eight international physical therapists participated. On average, participants had 6.9 years (95% confidence interval: 3.1–10.7, n = 27) of clinical experience working in ED settings and devoted approximately 39.3% (95% confidence interval: 23.8–54.8, n = 27) of their time to treating individuals with EDs. Participants reported that physical therapy interventions have a diverse range of benefits on the physical, mental and disease-specific factors (e.g. binges) in people with EDs. The key role of physical therapists includes improving body awareness, especially during physical activity combined with psycho-education about healthy doses of physical activity. Physical therapists were able to identify a range of barriers and facilitators to physical activity in people with EDs. Discussion This paper provides a first step towards understanding the role and value of physical therapists working with individuals with EDs. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysiotherapy Research International
Early online date12 Aug 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • exercise
  • mental health
  • physiotherapy
  • rehabilitation services

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