Investigation of eating disorders in cancer patients and its relevance with body image

Seyyed Abbas Hossein, Masoud Bahrami, Shahla Mohamadirizi, Zamzam Paknaad



Background: Eating disorder is one of the most common health problems with clinical and psychological consequences, which can affect body image in cancer patients. Similar studies in this area for checking the status of this disorder and its relevance with body image in patients with cancer are limited. Therefore, this study was designed with the aim of determination of eating disorders in patients with cancer and their relevance with body image.

Materials and Methods: The research was a cross‑correlation study. It was carried out in Sayed‑Al‑Shohada Hospital affiliated to the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in 2013. Two hundred and ten patients with cancer were selected and were asked tocomplete the demographic and disease characteristics questionnaire, the Multidimensional Body‑Self Relations Questionnaire (MBSRQ), and eating disorders questionnaire. SPSS statistical software, version 14 was used for statistical analysis’‑Test, analysis of variance (ANOVA), and Pearson correlation coefficient were used for analyzing the obtained data.

Results: The mean values of age, body mass index (BMI), and duration of illness were 48.2 ± 13.20 years, 24.6 ± 4.6kg/m2, and 25.64 ± 21.24months, respectively. Most patients were married (87%), without university education (96%), unemployed (67%), and with incomes below their requirement (52%). Most patients were diagnosed with breast cancer (36.5%). They received chemotherapy as the main treatment (56.2%). In addition, mean ± SD of eating disorders and body image were 12.84 ± 4.7 and184.40 ± 43.68, respectively. Also, 49.7% of patients with cancer had an eating disorder. Among these, 29% had experiences of anorexia and 20.7% had bulimia. There was a significant negative correlation between the score of body image and eating disorders (r = −0.47, P = 0.01).

Conclusions: Findings of this study showed that most patients with cancer had experienced symptoms of eating disorders. This may lead to a negative impact on the body image in these patients and may be the cause of further psychological and physical changes in these patients. The findings of this study can assist the healthcare team to pay more attention to eating disorders and body image in patients with cancer and also in considering the relationship of these issues in their evaluations.

Key words: Body image, cancer, eating disorder, Iran, nursing

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