Associations between probable eating disorders and healthcare use among post-9/11 veteran men and women

Karen S. Mitchell, Megan Sienkiewicz, Brian N. Smith, Dawne Vogt, Shannon Kehle-Forbes, Zafra Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: Healthcare use is elevated among individuals with eating disorders (EDs); however, most people with EDs do not receive ED-specific care, likely due to factors such as the cost and availability of treatment as well as stigma. U.S. military veterans historically have been understudied in ED research. We investigated healthcare use and barriers to care among recently separated veteran men and women. Method: In this cross-sectional study, 1494 participants completed an online or paper survey assessing ED symptoms, healthcare use, and logistical and attitudinal barriers to care. We estimated logistic regression models to investigate the association of ED status with healthcare use variables and examined gender similarities and differences in barriers to care. Results: Men and women with probable EDs reported low rates of ED treatment but greater healthcare use, during military service and since separating from service, compared to veterans without probable EDs (odds ratios = 1.57–7.05). Large proportions of participants reported that they did not know where to get help for EDs and that treatment is too costly. There were few gender differences in barriers to care (Cramer's V = 0.02–0.32). Conclusion: Veterans reported high healthcare use but low rates of ED treatment. Findings underscore the need to increase the reach and accessibility of ED treatment in potentially vulnerable groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110811
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grant funding from the Department of Defense ( W81XWH1810697 ). The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the VA, DoD, or US government.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022


  • Barriers to care
  • Eating disorders
  • Healthcare use
  • Veterans

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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