Engaging primary care providers in managing pediatric eating disorders: a mixed methods study

Jocelyn Lebow, Cassandra Narr, Angela Mattke, Janna R. Gewirtz O’Brien, Marcie Billings, Julie Hathaway, Kristin Vickers, Robert Jacobson, Leslie Sim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The primary care setting offers an attractive opportunity for, not only the identification of pediatric eating disorders, but also the delivery of evidence-based treatment. However, constraints of this setting pose barriers for implementing treatment. For interventions to be successful, they need to take into consideration the perspectives of stakeholders. As such, the purpose of this study was to examine in-depth primary care providers’ perspective of challenges to identifying and managing eating disorders in the primary care setting. Methods: This mixed methods study surveyed 60 Pediatric and Family Medicine providers across 6 primary care practices. Sixteen of these providers were further interviewed using a qualitative, semi-structured interview. Results: Providers (n = 60, response rate of 45%) acknowledged the potential of primary care as a point of contact for early identification and treatment of pediatric eating disorders. They also expressed that this was an area of need in their practices. They identified numerous barriers to successful implementation of evidence-based treatment in this setting including scarcity of time, knowledge, and resources. Conclusions: Investigations seeking to build capacities in primary care settings to address eating disorders must address these barriers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11
JournalJournal of Eating Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Adolescent
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Eating disorder
  • Primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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