Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a mental illness with multiple serious physical health complications. Despite this, evidence suggests that AN is commonly conceptualised as a choice, and sufferers are regarded as vain, selfish and to blame for their condition. No previous studies appear to have explored the link between these stigmatising views and attitudes towards sickness and disability benefits for people with AN, though general attitudes towards benefits claimants are often negative.
This quantitative study aimed to investigate if people with AN are widely viewed as undeserving of benefits, and to explore if and how stigma and perceptions of personal choice may affect this, using the example of Personal Independence Payment (PIP). The final sample consisted of 20 female undergraduate students from a university in the North of England. Main findings were that most students (80%) believed that people with AN should be eligible to apply for PIP, though higher levels of stigma were associated with disagreement towards PIP. Results showed that levels of stigma towards AN were generally low, but beliefs that AN is a choice and sufferers are to blame were present nonetheless. However, the study found no conclusive evidence of perceptions of choice being associated with attitudes towards PIP.
Anorexia nervosa, Eating disorders, Benefits, Stigma, Personal Independence Payment
How to Cite
Walton, C., (2022) “Examining perceptions of anorexia nervosa: Should people with anorexia nervosa receive health-related welfare benefits?”, Fields: journal of Huddersfield student research 8(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.5920/fields.988