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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Intimate partner relationships and recovery from an eating disorder Hughes-Jones, Megan I.


It is well established in the empirical, clinical, and theoretical literatures that close relationships influence adult women’s recovery from an eating disorder (ED), and research has consistently identified intimate partners as key figures in this process. Despite this recognition, very little is known about women’s lived experiences of their intimate partner relationships as a support during recovery, or the meanings they attribute to this experience. The current qualitative study employed a hermeneutic phenomenological method to address this gap in knowledge. The research question guiding this inquiry was: “what is the meaning of lived experience of intimate partner relationships in supporting women’s recovery from an eating disorder?” Ten adult women completed qualitative research interviews. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and a thematic analysis was conducted. Five common themes characterizing the women’s lived experience of the phenomenon of intimate partner relationships supporting recovery were identified: Sense of Safety, Sense of Mutual Commitment, Communication as Facilitative, Intimacy, and Sense of Identity Beyond the Eating Disorder. Significant findings are discussed within the context of existing literature on adult women’s experiences of an ED and recovery. Implications for theory, practice, and research are addressed, and recommendations for future research are identified.

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