GPs Role in Managing Eating Disorders

This week’s experts:
Dr Sarah Maguire, Clinical Psychologist and Director of InsideOut Institute, Sydney
Dr Karen Spielman, GP, Clinical Lead, Headspace, Bondi Junction and Primary Care Mental Health Adviser, InsideOut Institute, Sydney

Drawn from Dr David Lim’s interview with Dr Sarah Maguire and Dr Karen Spielman on the Healthed Podcast, ‘Going Viral’.

Key roles of the GP in the management of patients with eating disorders:

– Have a high index of suspicion. Early identification is important.

– Ask appropriate questions to diagnose without invalidating the patient.

– Recognise that people with an eating disorder frequently have an ambivalence toward their condition and may be reluctant to accept treatment.

– Where an eating disorder may be suspected get the patient back regularly to build rapport and monitor. Offer treatment repeatedly.

– Monitor and record height and weight regularly.

– Explain, sensitively the potential medical consequences of an eating disorder. Many patients are unaware of these and once made aware they might be more likely to seek and accept treatment.

– Where possible involve the patient’s carers/family. Need patient’s consent but health outcomes are often better when carers/families can give and receive information.

– Act as conduit to appropriate health resources and professionals. GPs are rarely experts in treating eating disorders but are experts in identifying patients and referring appropriately.

Listen to the podcast>>

Further resources available at:

The InsideOut Institute – resources for patients, carers and clinicians. Also includes a free online training course for clinicians wishing to upskill in this area (The Essentials).
The Butterfly Foundation
The Centre for Clinical Innovation
– Peer support groups for clinicians treating patients with eating disorders. Found through organisations such as Black Dog

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