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Developing an eating disorder pathway: a case study

Joanna Blackburn (Research Fellow, based at Department of Research and Development, Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation, Barnsley, UK)
Virginia Minogue (Research Lead for NHS England, Leeds, UK)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 2 December 2014




The purpose of this paper is to describe the development of an eating disorder care pathway for adults with eating disorders, in a northern borough town. It arose out of a need to reduce and address inconsistent access to services and treatment pathways.


The development involved a mapping exercise of current service delivery, a review of the literature on eating disorder care pathways, consultation workshops, the engagement of service users and carers, and the development of draft pathways for patients and carers.


Significant emphasis was on raising awareness, prevention, identification and assessment, treatment and recovery. Two pathways were proposed, one for service users focusing on awareness raising/prevention, identification and assessment, treatment, stabilisation and relapse prevention and one for carers/families focusing on carers being identifiable in their own right to receive support for caring for someone with an eating disorder.

Research limitations/implications

A limitation of the care pathway under development was the difficulty obtaining an accurate figure of the true number of cases of eating disorders in the local area. This, together with the lack of any form of systematic review or meta-analysis of care pathways made identifying the number of people suffering from eating disorders and developing an effective model difficult.


The proposed pathway places significant emphasis on increasing knowledge, incorporating the patient perspective, and enhancing the recognition and understanding of eating disorders in the community. A model was created that could be implemented successfully and identify patients suffering from eating disorders, when the true incidence of eating disorders remains hidden.



This paper presents independent research by the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care Yorkshire and Humber (NIHR CLAHRC YH). The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors, and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.

Author roles: Both authors made significant contributions to the development of the manuscript. Joanna Blackburn was main author.

Conflict of Interest Statement: No conflict of interest has been declared by the authors.


Blackburn, J. and Minogue, V. (2014), "Developing an eating disorder pathway: a case study", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 244-260.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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