Challenges and Needs of Iranian Parents While Seeking Help for their Adolescent with Anorexia Nervosa: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Clinical Psychology, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran

2 1.NHS Forth Valley, Eating Disorders Service, Scotland, United Kingdom 2. Department of Justice and Society, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia



Introduction: Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for the recovery of adolescents with Anorexia Nervosa (AN), and parental involvement plays a pivotal role in early intervention. Therefore, the present study aimed to explore Iranian parents’ challenges before and after seeking out professional help for the treatment of their adolescent with AN and what they required during this process. 
Method: Through purposeful sampling, 15 parents of adolescents with AN from several cities of Iran participated in this qualitative study. Data was gathered through online in-depth semi-structured interviews in Google Meet platform between July 2022 and October 2022, and was analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.
Results: Overall, seven group experiential themes emerged from the interviews. The challenges included four main themes: lack of mental health literacy, misdiagnosis or delays in eating disorders recognition, lack of eating disorder specialists and centers, and parental burnout. In addition, the needs consisted of three main themes: familiarity with eating disorders, parent management training, emotional and societal support.
Conclusion: Iranian healthcare providers can consider the challenges and the needs of parents identified in this study to provide the best practice for the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric AN with minimum potential deficits.