Unbound MEDLINE

Managing anxiety in eating disorders with knitting.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE
Recovery from anorexia nervosa (AN) is often confounded by intrusive, anxious preoccupations with control of eating, weight and shape. These are distressing and represent a potential barrier to psychological change. Theoretical and empirical evidence suggests that performing a concurrent visuospatial task reduces the emotional intensity of distressing images. We assessed whether the visuospatial task of knitting influences the anxious preoccupation experienced by inpatients with AN.
METHOD
Prospective interventional cohort.
SUBJECTS
Thirty-eight women with AN admitted to a specialized eating disorder unit.
INTERVENTION
All subjects were given knitting lessons and free access to supplies.
MEASURE
Subjects were asked to report the qualitative effects of knitting on their psychological state using a self-report questionnaire.
RESULTS
Patients reported a subjective reduction in anxious preoccupation when knitting. In particular, 28/38 (74%) reported it lessened the intensity of their fears and thoughts and cleared their minds of eating disorder preoccupations, 28/38 (74%) reported it had a calming and therapeutic effect and 20/38 (53%) reported it provided satisfaction, pride and a sense of accomplishment.
DISCUSSION
This preliminary data suggests that knitting may benefit inpatients with eating disorders by reducing their anxious preoccupations about eating, weight and shape control. The specificity of this effect is yet to be determined. This preliminary outcome requires further controlled study in AN subjects. From a clinical perspective, knitting is inexpensive, easily learned, can continue during social interaction, and can provide a sense of accomplishment. The theoretical and empirical rationale for this observation, and implications for deriving alternative strategies to augment treatment in AN, are discussed.

Authors

Clave-Brule M, Mazloum A, Park RJ, Harbottle EJ, Birmingham CL

Source

Eating and weight disorders : EWD 14:1 2009 Mar pg e1-5

MeSH

Adult
Anorexia Nervosa
Anxiety
Feeding Behavior
Female
Humans
Middle Aged
Psychomotor Performance
Questionnaires
Relaxation Therapy
Treatment Outcome

Pub Type(s)

Clinical Trial
Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

19367130