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Outpatient eating disorder treatment experience in autistic and non-autistic individuals

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Nicola Brewin, Masters Student at De Montfort University –


A qualitative study exploring the experiences of outpatient treatment of autistic and non-autistic individuals with an eating disorder. This study will compare experiences of autistic and non-autistic people with an eating disorder.

Purpose of the study

The purpose of the study is exploring experiences of eating disorder treatment, specifically outpatient treatment, in autistic and non-autistic individuals. Several studies have reported the experience of autistic individuals with co-existing anorexia in relation to treatment, but no study had compared the experiences within one study. We hope that the findings will contribute to the current body of knowledge and help to inform how adaptations can be made in treatment to help make them more effective and acceptable to those with co-existing eating disorders and autism spectrum conditions.

Who can take part?

We are looking for people

  • Aged 18+ who have received outpatient treatment for an eating disorder in the last 3 years
  • Aged 18+ who have received outpatient treatment for an eating disorder in the last 3 years and have a formal diagnosis of an autism spectrum condition

What does the study involve?

Taking part in the study would involve being interviewed by a researcher. The interview will involve talking about your experiences of outpatient treatment for your eating disorder. The main areas that will be asked about will be sent to you prior to the interview inform you of the kind of questions you may expect. There are several ways in which the interview can be done. The options available are:

  • Meeting via a video call (for example, through Skype, or Zoom)
  • Having a conversation by instant messenger or via email
  • A telephone interview.

If you choose to complete an interview either via video or on the phone it is anticipated that the interview will last up to an hour. If your interview is done in writing (e.g. by email) then it may take longer to complete but can be conducted around time frames that suit you. Video and phone interviews will be digitally audio-taped to allow the researcher to produce a written copy of what was said in the interview.

There is also a video available for you to watch where you can see and hear the researcher introduce herself and tell you a little about the study. This is available at

Taking part will involve you giving up some of your time to take part in the interview. As we will be talking about your experiences of treatment, we might talk about some potentially sensitive issues and you might feel distress. However, if you do feel upset, we can pause the interview or stop it completely if you prefer to. I will also ask you during the interview if you are happy to continue. A leaflet of potential sources of support will also be made available to participants.

The study does not intend to benefit you directly. However, you may find it useful to talk about your experiences. It I hoped that in the longer-term, this study may make a small contribution to helping improve services.

How can someone take part?

If you would like to take part, please contact the researcher (Nicola Brewin) by email: