First Advisor

O'Halloran, Mary Sean

Second Advisor

Rings, Jeffrey

Document Type


Date Created



Eating disorders (EDs) have become an epidemic within the United States, with medical and psychological consequences that can be lethal. Treatment for these diseases is complex and demanding, requiring an integrated treatment approach by a multidisciplinary team in which nurses play an integral role. Research has demonstrated a wide array of both positive and negative experiences among nurses in traditional medical and mental health settings. Though researchers have assessed nurses' subjective experiences in treating EDs, the literature neglects to focus upon the broader experiences of nurses, including perceived benefits and challenges, in treating both adult and adolescent ED patients. The current study employed qualitative, phenomenological methodology to explore the experiences of nurses in treating EDs. Interviews were conducted with 12 nurse participants and were analyzed via a phenomenological method of analysis. The outcome was the development of textural-structural descriptions for participants and composite themes capturing the essence of their experiences. Three primary thematic categories emerged: initial attitudes, conditions of treatment, and emotional awareness and outcomes. Understanding of these nursing experiences may help mental health professionals to improve education/training for nurses entering the field, increase support and communication with the treatment teams, mitigate negative emotional experiences, and highlight the benefits that such ED nurses experience.


Eating disorder; Experience; Nurse; Phenomology; Treatment


349 pages

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