Participate in a study on eating disorder recovery

photo by Jill E. Williams

One of the frustrations shared with me while I was conducting research for Hijas Americanas was how misunderstood Latinas who sought help for eating disorders felt.  One young woman remembered being told by her treatment team that she wasn’t a “normal” patient so they didn’t know what to do with her.  Another young woman spoke of being afraid to reveal her eating disorder so that she could get help because Latinas weren’t supposed to have disordered eating.  As I read study after study, I found that very few of them contained stories from women of color with eating disorders.  I can speak at great length about all of this, but that’s not the point of today’s post.  The intention of today’s post is to introduce you to Martina Verba and to ask you to consider sharing your story with her if you are a woman of color who has recovered from an eating disorder.  Martina is a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania who is conducting a study on the progression of recovery and she passionately wants it to be inclusive.  See her note below for more information.

From Martina Verba:

In an effort to describe different levels of recovery from eating disorders, researchers have developed the term “partial recovery” and “full recovery.” “Partial recovery” is generally used to describe a recovery stage in which behavioral and physical symptoms have remitted, but psychological symptoms remain. The term “full recovery” is used to describe a recovery stage in which behavioral, physical and psychological symptoms have remitted. The question of how someone progresses from “partial recovery” to “full recovery” remains unexplored and is the focus of my doctoral study.

In reviewing the existing research on eating disorders, I found study after study based exclusively or almost exclusively on Caucasian women.  This trend is particularly noticeable in reviewing the literature on recovery. Authors frequently explained that the lack of diversity in their samples was due to the fact that volunteers for the study tended to be Caucasian. The result of this trend is that the voices of Latina or Asian or African-American who have recovered are rarely heard.

I am currently recruiting women (over 18) in the US with at least 5 years of recovery from anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa to participate in in-depth interviews (either in person or via Skype) about the recovery process. While recruitment is open to the “general population” of women, I am writing to invite specifically Latina women, African-American women, Asian women, Native-American women or any other group that may be under-represented in the literature to participate in this study.

If you are interested in participating or know someone who might be, please call me at 914-231-7295 or email at Even if you are just interested in the topic, I would love to hear from you.

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