eating disorder, spirituality, religion, etiology, recovery


This article reports two qualitative studies that explored how religion and spirituality (R/S) influenced the treatment and recovery process of patients with eating disorder. In Study 1 and Study 2, a total of 83 women who had successfully completed treatment at an inpatient eating disorder treatment center responded to open-ended survey questions about the role of R/S in their recovery. Twelve of the women in Study 2 participated in follow-up phone interviews. Qualitative analysis of survey responses and interview transcripts indicated that although many women believed R/S contributed to the development and maintenance of their eating disorder, most of them also felt it was indispensable to their recovery. Several women believed R/S did not influence or negatively influenced their recovery. The findings from these qualitative studies indi- cate that some patients with eating disorders who have completed treatment believe that R/S can be powerful adjuncts in eating disorder treatment. The findings also provide rich insight into how R/S may assist in treatment and recovery.

Original Publication Citation

Richards, P. S., Caoili, C. C., Crowton, S. A., Berrett, M. E., Randy K. Hardman, R. K., Jackson, R. N., & Sanders, P. W. (2018). An exploration of the role of religion and spirituality in the treatment and recovery of patients with eating disorders. Spirituality in Clinical Practice.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Spirituality in Clinical Practice




David O. McKay School of Education


Counseling Psychology and Special Education

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor