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School for Social Work


Eating disorders-Diagnosis, Eating disorders-Treatment, Social workers-Training of, Personality assessment, Social work education, Mental health literacy, Eating disorder mental health literacy, Outpatient clinical social workers, Assessment practices, Knowledge


Eating disorders are complex biopsychosocial illnesses. This national survey study examined the eating disorder mental health literacy (ED-MHL) of 316 outpatient clinical social workers in the United States. More specifically, the study aimed to identify social workers' eating disorder assessment, intervention, and referral practices; perceived versus actual knowledge of eating disorders; comfort level; and amount of training in eating disorders. Results showed that social workers do not routinely assess for eating disorders and disordered eating on clinical intake forms and within the first two therapy sessions. Additionally, social workers reported a need for further education and training in eating disorders; and reported low to moderate levels of comfort in assessing for and treating eating disorders. The majority of social workers in the study planned to make a change in their clinical practice as a result of participating in this study. Two primary implications for social work practice and education are: a) technology is a platform for increasing, assessing, and providing eating disorder mental health literacy and b) the need for eating disorder to be included in the social work curricula.




231 pages. Ph.D. Dissertation-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Ma., 2016. Includes bibliographical references (pages 145-168)