Etiologic and treatment conceptualizations of disordered eating symptoms among mainland Chinese therapists.
Ma R., Capobianco KP., Buchanan NT., Hu Z., Oakman JM.
OBJECTIVE: Reports of disordered eating are increasing in mainland China; however, little is known regarding Chinese psychotherapists' conceptualizations of disordered eating symptomatology. This study explores Chinese psychotherapists' conceptualizations of binge eating (BE)/vomiting symptoms and treatment considerations. METHOD: In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with mainland Chinese psychotherapists (N = 41) in Mandarin. Participants were given a hypothetical case and provided their conceptualization of the patient's BE/vomiting etiology and treatment recommendations. Etiological conceptualizations were coded using directed content analysis, and treatment recommendations were grouped by intervention strategy. RESULTS: Participants described psychosocial risk factors for BE/vomiting including intrapersonal characteristics and the childhood family environment, but rarely discussed genetic and neurobiological factors. Few participants reported that they would prioritize the BE/vomiting symptoms in treatment and their specific treatment recommendations varied widely. DISCUSSION: Most research on BE/vomiting behaviors in the literature is based on Western samples with little attention to mainland Chinese populations. Participants in this study provided conceptualizations of risk factors and treatment recommendations that could generally find evidence in the existing Western literature, even if some theories are no longer supported by updated Western research and the participants focused primarily on psychosocial risks as opposed to genetic/neurobiological factors. It will be important for future research to ascertain mainland Chinese therapists' understanding of these additional types of risk. These findings also suggest a disconnect between clinical findings on neurobiological risks and Chinese therapists' knowledge and/or perceived clinical utility of these risks. Implications for treatment and research dissemination to diverse global communities are discussed.