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The purpose of this study was to characterize recovery experiences of female collegiate athletes who have suffered from eating disorders. Participants were 16 collegiate female athletes who experienced recovery from an eating disorder. Participants told their recovery stories in semistructured interviews regarding factors that initiated, assisted, and hindered recovery. The most common turning point to initiate recovery was experiencing negative consequences from the eating disorder. Factors that most frequently assisted recovery included making cognitive and behavioral changes, supportive relationships, and seeking professional care. Hindering factors most commonly included lack of support from others, professional care complaints, and spending time with others with eating disorders. Results suggested that unique features of the sport environment, including coaches’ behavior and team norms, introduce either positive or negative influences on athletes as they work to recover from an eating disorder. Based on these findings, specific treatment and prevention recommendations for athletes are discussed.
Arthur-Cameselle is with the Psychology Dept., Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY. Quatromoni is with the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Boston University, Boston, MA.