Birgegård A, Abbaspour A, Borg S, Clinton D, Mantilla EF, Savva A, Termorshuizen JD, Bulik CM
Eat Disord - (-) 1-16 [2021-10-11; online 2021-10-11]
The study aimed to document the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and well-being of individuals with past and current eating disorders (ED) in Sweden. We re-contacted participants with a known lifetime history of ED from two previous Swedish studies. Participants completed an online survey about health and functioning at baseline early in the pandemic (Wave 1 ca May/June 2020; N= 982) and six months later (Wave 2 Dec/Jan 2020/21; N= 646). Three important patterns emerged: 1) higher current ED symptoms were associated with greater anxiety, worry, and pandemic-related ED symptom increase; 2) patterns were fairly stable across time, although a concerning percentage (23%) who were symptom-free at Wave 1 reported the re-emergence of symptoms at Wave 2; and 3) only a minority of participants (<50%) with a current ED were in treatment, and of those in treatment, many reported fewer treatment sessions and decreased quality of care. The COVID-19 pandemic appears to pose serious health challenges for individuals with an ED, whether currently symptomatic or in remission. We encourage health service providers and patient advocates to be alert to the needs of individuals with ED and to take active measures to ensure access to appropriate evidence-based care both during and following the pandemic.