Doctors are learning about eating disorders: will this help you?


onesnakeThe American Medical Association, AMA, released a new and first of its kind CME granting online class for doctors. It's designed to teach them to be more effective in communicating with patients about eating disorders as well as achieving earlier detection and intervention.  What do you think of what is being presented to doctors? Would you like your doctor to take this class?  See it here.  *(speakers listed below).

The National Eating Disorders Association, NEDA, encouraged the AMA to create this class. The AMA created "Screening and Managing Eating Disorders in Primary Practice" and agreed to energetically make it available to doctors. How does what this class teaches relate to your experience with doctors?


In your conversations with your doctor, past or present, about eating disorders:

  1. Do you feel understood?
  2. Do you feel respected?
  3. Does your doctor recommend a diet?
  4. Dioes your doctor make judgements about your weight?
  5. Does your doctor prescribe medication?
  6. Does your doctor recommend exercise?
  7. Does your doctor convey knowledge and hope?
  8. Does your doctor know about resources available to you?
  9. Does your doctor refer you to mental health clinicians with eating disorder expertise?
  10. Do you feel safe talking about your eating disorder?

The objectives of the class are that when doctors complete the hourse they are able to:

  • Describe the basic diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa (both restricting and purging subtypes), and binge eating disorder
  • Recognize the high morbidity and mortality associated with eating disorders
  • Identify the primary care physician’s role in prevention and treatment
  • Identify resources and tools to screen patients for eating disorders, and for appropriate referral
  • Acknowledge the role of hope of recovery for the patient
  • Inform patients and their families, with confidence, that there are effective treatments for the disorder

Do you wish your doctor had taken or will take this class?  Did you learn something valuable by taking it?

I like the idea of doctors having informative reading material available for their patients.  I'd love it if a copy of Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder, were in every primary care physician's waiting room.  I wonder, how could that happen?  Any suggestions?  :)

Do you believe your recovery work would have been affected or still could be affected  if your doctor had the information presented in this course?


* Speakers

Ovidio Bermudez, MD, FAAP, FSHM, FAED, CEDS
Medical Director of Child & Adolescent Services
Eating Recovery Center, Denver, Colorado

Jennifer L. Gaudiani, MD
Assistant Medical Director, ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders
Hospitalist, Denver Health
Assistant Professor of Medicine
University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado



0 # I remember the first time my primary carmylifex2 2012-04-21 14:42
I remember the first time my primary care doctor found out about my bulimia. He was questioning me on some lab results and also asking me questions about the anxiety I was having...mostly palpitating heart. I admitted to him that I was purging...I was actually relieved to have someone to tell because I was feeling so bad about it. He just told me "you really need to stop doing that, it's not good for you", and gave me valium. That was probably 17 years ago. Fast foward to last December. I still have the same primary healthcare doctor. I was having heart palpitations again, chest pain. I had not been eating for about 4 months. Initially he asked me questions about stress in my life...he even seemed to gloss over the fact that maybe it really could be a heart disease issue (women are often overlooked for that too at my age)...flippantly gave me an appease me, I think. My mom was with me as I was too afraid to drive myself. She told him that I was not eating and she felt it was due to that. He laughed and said "oh, she could lose a few more pounds"..."she is healthy"...and completely lost the opportunity to counsel me on my eating issues. After he read the EKG he told me that I really just "needed to reduce my stress and not let the holidays overwhelm me so much" mom again expressed concern about my lack of eating and he totally ignored her. Of course, he may have observed my icy glare in her direction.
I think in my situation, I had a doctor who visually saw someone who was not underweight, who appeared a healthy weight. I don't think he realized we had had the bulimia conversation years ago...he is busy and I rarely visit the doctor.
I was pretty upset that he said I could "lose a few lbs"...that really turned ugly in my head as you can imagine.
I am not angry with him. I wish I could do something to help educate doctors too. There are so many woman struggling with eating disorders and most of them fly under the radar.
As far as a copy of your book being placed in waiting rooms, I would say that it would probably be stolen...instead, I would recommend that the book be placed in the actual exam room. At my primary care, the counter has various magazines and books on health related concerns. It may be a good place for someone to peruse while waiting those average 10 minutes between the nurse and the doctor.. perhaps you could have some published with "office copy" on the cover. Or perhaps you could publish some of your information into a booklet? Send me a box of those and I will hit every pcp office in town for you as well as place them in my hospital units for the patients.
0 # None of my doctors (Primary, GI) have anPTC 2012-04-21 15:22
None of my doctors (Primary, GI) have any idea that I have an ED. The past two times I went to my primary (a new doctor), the nurse who weighed me commented on my weight, but the doctor didn't say anything, nor did she ask me anything while taking my general history when I saw her for the first time.

I definitely don't think doctors know much about EDs and they don't address them. I think this program would be very helpful and it's a great thing.
0 # after re-reading my comment, I really thtracy 2012-04-21 18:52
after re-reading my comment, I really think that if you condensed some of your information into a booklet or pamphlet and added information on your book, people who need this information, people who are searching for help, will be led to order the book or buy it at a local bookstore. I think a doctors office, student counseling centers, and local free clinics would be great places for this information. PTC, I agree, but I also think that a lot of doctors are afraid to approach this subject with their patients because they don't feel they know how to help them...they see it as a primarily psychological issue, not realizing the vital role they have in getting the patient to a therapist where the real work can begin.
0 # Thank you PTC and Tracy. Your stories apinkjoanna 2012-04-21 22:25
Thank you PTC and Tracy. Your stories and thoughts are helpful and encouraging.

Yes, Tracy, I've been thinking about pamphlets, but I was thinking in terms of downloadable pdf files. Your idea is a major tweak. I will consider the possibility. :-) Thank you.
0 # I begged my family doctor to refer me toshh 2012-04-22 18:25
I begged my family doctor to refer me to an ED clinic, and she was like "why do you think you need that?" and then she expected me to tell her all my family and psychological background, to try to justify my request, and I did start telling her some of the reasons, but I was so uncomfortable, and I said "I don't really want to talk about this here" and she was quite horrible and said "well if I refer you, you had better talk when you get there, or it will be a complete waste of time and resources"

Saying that, even when I did get there, I was assessed by one of their psychologists who said I didn't need help, but I could see a dietician there if I wanted to, so I saw the dietician for 2 years who then referred me on to their CBT therapist, who then referred me on to their clinical psychologist... so I fought pretty hard for my treatment.

So I'm not really sure what I think...I mean family docs, definitely don't have much of a clue, but even within ED clinics it felt like if it wasn't classic anorexia or bullimia, then it wasn't a problem - although I think awareness has improved on that score in the last few years

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