CREATING RECOMMENDATIONS ON EATING DISORDER POLICIES AND PRACTICES AT CANADIAN UNIVERSITIES
This thesis is aimed at creating recommendations for eating disorder policies and practices for Canadian universities. The rise in eating disorder cases among university students in recent years obliges higher education institutions to address this issue. Previous studies have examined the most beneficial eating disorder practices in the Kindergarten – Grade 12 sector, but researchers have yet to investigate which practices can make a change in lives of university students with this mental illness. Using the method of case study as a foundation of this research, eating disorder policies and practices at 49 leading Canadian universities included in Maclean's ranking were analyzed through a thematic analysis of documents and websites’ content. This analysis became a basis for semi-structured interviews with four eating disorder specialists who reflected on existing practices. All data were examined following Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis, resulting in the creation of five main themes: Existing Eating Disorder Practices, Stakeholders, Needs of Different Groups, Challenges, and Recommendations, and 22 subordinate themes. This study identified a lack of eating disorder policies and practices; ways were proposed to improve the effectiveness of existing practices based on the opinions of specialists who have experience working with students with eating disorders. These findings provide evidence that creation of effective initiatives related to this mental illness requires the inclusion of the perspectives of certain stakeholders, consideration of the needs of specific student groups, and efforts to overcome several challenges that prevent universities from addressing this illness on campuses. This thesis reiterates the need for higher education institutions to increase awareness about the effects of eating disorders, which can result in adopting more policies and practices directed at managing this mental illness.
eating disorders, universities
Master of Education (M.Ed.)