OBJECTIVE: To retrospectively explore the first disclosure of eating problems and the impact of disclosure factors on subsequent help-seeking amongst women with eating disorders.
METHOD: Seventy-one eating disorder service users were interviewed using the newly developed Eating Disorder Disclosure Interview and the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire.
RESULTS: Faster access to specialist services was associated with being older at first disclosure and with disclosures that involved either a general practitioner, an individual's partner or mother. Patients' appraisals of 'other-initiated' and 'volunteered' disclosures did not differ, although 'other-initiated' disclosures were younger and accessed help more quickly than those who 'volunteered'. The more positively 'other-initiated' disclosures were appraised, the quicker the subsequent help-seeking.
CONCLUSION: The findings indicate that initiating a disclosure might lead to earlier access to treatment for individuals with eating disorders.