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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.

Links

  • author profiles
  • Authors+Show Affiliations

    ,

    Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

    , , ,

    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

    Citation

    TY - JOUR T1 - Managing anxiety in eating disorders with knitting. AU - Clave-Brule,M, AU - Mazloum,A, AU - Park,R J, AU - Harbottle,E J, AU - Birmingham,C L, PY - 2009/4/16/entrez PY - 2009/4/16/pubmed PY - 2009/5/15/medline SP - e1 EP - 5 JF - Eating and weight disorders : EWD JO - Eat Weight Disord VL - 14 IS - 1 N2 - 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. SN - 1590-1262 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/19367130/Managing_anxiety_in_eating_disorders_with_knitting_ L2 - http://www.diseaseinfosearch.org/result/7698 ER -