Eating disorders are serious and potentially life-threatening mental illnesses. This activity aims to improve early detection and intervention by raising awareness of the signs and symptoms, helping GPs understand how to communicate with their patients about eating behaviours, and outlining the GP’s role within the multidisciplinary care team. Knowledge is applied through a series of interactive case studies.
Relevance to General Practice
An increasing proportion of the population is affected by disordered eating and about 1 in 20 Australians has an eating disorder. As well as involving psychological impairment and distress, eating disorders are associated with significant physical complications and increased mortality – regardless of an individual’s weight. Indeed, patients with eating disorders can be underweight, overweight, or in the ‘healthy’ weight range. Eating disorders frequently go undiagnosed and untreated. GPs are often the first health professionals that a person with disordered eating will come in contact with; however, most patients present with other illnesses and do not seek help for their eating behaviours. It is important that GPs have eating disorders on their radar, can recognise the often subtle signs and symptoms, and know how to approach this topic with their patients, in order to intervene early and improve patient outcomes.
- Describe the spectrum of disordered eating behaviours and their consequences
- Explain what factors contribute to the development of eating disorders and use this knowledge to identify patients at higher risk
- Discuss how to improve early recognition of eating disorders through identification of disordered eating behaviours and screening tools
- Suggest communication techniques that support patient engagement and disclosure of disordered eating
- Briefly outline interventions and treatment options pathways
Domains of General Practice
D1. Communication skills and the patient-doctor relationship
D2. Applied professional knowledge and skills
D3. Population health and the context of general practice
D4. Professional and ethical role
D5. Organisational and legal dimensions