To assess the attitudes and behaviour of family physicians toward patients with eating disorders (EDs) and to assess these physicians' ongoing learning needs.
Confidential survey by mail.
Family practices in London, Ont.
Two hundred thirty-six general FPs.
Proportion of FPs seeing patients with EDs, screening and management practices, learning needs.
Survey response rate was 87.7%; 64% of respondents were male, 36% were female, and 54% had completed a family medicine residency program. Overall, FPs were more comfortable with diagnosis, and less comfortable with management, of EDs. Most respondents shared care with other professionals, usually psychiatrists and nutritionists. Female physicians had identified a larger number of ED patients in their practices and were more likely to screen routinely for EDs. Three quarters of FPs rated their undergraduate training in EDs as poor, and 59% thought their postgraduate training was poor. Outpatient services, diagnostic issues, screening needs, and management planning were identified as important learning needs. Family physicians thought these needs could be best addressed in interactive workshops or peer-led case-discussion groups.
Family physicians are important in first-line treatment of EDs, but many barriers prevent effective diagnosis and management. Validated screening tools and management strategies could assist FPs in caring for patients with EDs.