Comparing the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of pediatric and family medicine clinicians toward atypical anorexia nervosa versus anorexia nervosa

Kelly Kons, Jamal Essayli, Jennifer Shook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate the knowledge, attitudes, and current practices of adolescent primary care providers regarding the epidemiology, clinical features, and diagnosis of atypical anorexia nervosa (AN) compared to AN. Methods: An online survey was sent to the Pediatric and Family Medicine clinicians who provide medical care to adolescents. Statistical analyses compared differences in responses to questions about atypical AN versus AN. Results: Relative to AN, participants (n = 67) were significantly less familiar with atypical AN, less likely to consider a diagnosis of atypical AN, less comfortable identifying atypical AN, less likely to counsel patients with atypical AN on health risks, less likely to refer patients with atypical AN to a specialist, and less likely to correctly identify atypical AN. Clinicians with more years in medical practice reported a significantly larger gap in familiarity between AN and atypical AN than clinicians with less than 5 years of practice. Conclusions: Providers who care for adolescents appear to be less familiar with and less likely to identify atypical AN compared to AN. This knowledge gap may be more pronounced among clinicians with more years practicing medicine due to the novelty of atypical AN as a diagnosis. Lack of knowledge surrounding atypical AN risk factors may result in delayed diagnosis and associated poor health outcomes. Future research should investigate strategies that improve knowledge and screening of atypical AN in medical and other settings. Public Significance: Pediatric and Family Medicine clinicians are less familiar with atypical anorexia nervosa (AN) and less likely to diagnose a patient with atypical AN relative to AN. Insufficient knowledge about atypical AN may place these individuals at increased risk for worsening restrictive eating and the physical and psychological consequences of malnutrition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)993-1001
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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