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The purpose of this qualitative study was to identify turning points in eating disorder recovery in collegiate female athletes compared to non-athletes. The sample included 12 varsity athletes and 17 non-athlete college students who previously met criteria for Anorexia Nervosa (AN; n = 17); Bulimia Nervosa (BN; n = 3); Binge Eating Disorder (n = 1); or both AN and BN (n = 8). Participants completed individual interviews and responses were analyzed inductively. There was some commonality in the athletes’ and non-athletes’ experiences. For example, the most frequent turning point for both groups was Insight/Self Realization. Regarding the next three most frequent turning points, athletes reported Sport Performance, Confrontation, and Support/Concern from Others, whereas non-athletes reported Professional Treatment, Hitting a Low, and Support/Concern from Others. This study contributes to the sparse literature on competitive athletes’ recovery. Results indicated that athletes’ turning points differed from non-athletes; therefore, findings are discussed concerning athlete-specific treatment recommendations and suggestions for coaches.
Arthur-Cameselle is with the Health and Human Development Department, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA. Curcio is with the Clinical Psychology Department, William James College, Newton, MA.