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Clinicians’ views on working with anorexia nervosa and autism spectrum disorder comorbidity: a qualitative study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Emma Kinnaird, Caroline Norton, Kate Tchanturia

Original languageEnglish
Article number292
Number of pages8
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Early online date10 Aug 2017
Accepted/In press3 Aug 2017
E-pub ahead of print10 Aug 2017
Published10 Aug 2017


King's Authors


BACKGROUND: Anorexia nervosa (AN) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) form a relatively common comorbidity, with poorer illness outcomes and poorer responses to treatments for AN compared to individuals without ASD. However, the treatment of this comorbidity remains poorly understood: no research to date has examined how clinicians currently approach treating AN/ASD. This study aimed to explore the experiences of clinicians working with comorbid AN/ASD using qualitative methods in order to identify areas for future improvement.

METHODS: Interviews with individual clinicians (n = 9) were carried out and explored using thematic analysis.

RESULTS: The findings suggest that many clinicians lack confidence in treating this comorbidity, which requires specific changes to treatment to accommodate the issues raised by comorbid ASD. At present, any adaptations to treatment are based on the previous experience of individual clinicians, rather than representing a systematic approach.

CONCLUSIONS: Further research is needed to empirically assess potential treatment modifications for this group and to establish guidelines for best clinical practice.

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