Disparities in Treatment for Restrictive Eating Disorders in Women of Ethnic Minorities in the United States
Earnest, Jordan A.
Women of color in the United States have historically been considered immune from restrictive eating disorders including anorexia and bulimia nervosa (Kuba & Harris, 2001). However, various stressors, including a stronger acculturation to the mainstream White culture in the U.S. do make these women susceptible to developing disordered eating behaviors (Pumariega, 1997). Biases in research (Striegel-Moore & Smolak, 2000) and clinician diagnoses (van Ryn & Burke, 2000) have perpetuated the discrepancies in receiving treatment. For example, the measurements of disorder eating patterns have been formed and validated on Caucasian American women, and may not consider the unique contexts of the lives of women of ethnic minorities (Gilbert, 2003). Therefore, the presenting symptoms in a woman of color may not reflect the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) (Becker, Franko, Speck, & Herzog, 2003). In addition, language barriers, poverty, help-seeking attitudes, accessibility of treatment, and experiences with racism often inhibit this population from receiving and following through with treatment (Kuba & Harris, 2001 ). This literature review argues the importance of cultural competency when assessing patients and focusing further research.
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