How long does it take to access ED treatment?


Welcome back for the third instalment of our five-part blog series providing you with insights into new research and data coming out of the University of Otago and presented by a member of our very own EDGI NZ team at this year’s International Conference on Eating Disorders (ICED).

Time Taken to Reach Treatment in New Zealand: A National Study

Rachel Lawson, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Head of the South Island Eating Disorders Service for the Canterbury District Health Board, Christchurch, presented a paper on behalf of the Costs of Eating Disorders in New Zealand study investigators which examines the time taken to secure treatment for those with anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), binge eating disorder (BED) and other eating disorders (ED) in a New Zealand sample.

According to early study findings, it took more than a year for half of the sample of 444 respondents to seek help, with those with BN and BED taking significantly longer to seek help than those with AN or other EDs. Once help was sought however, half the sample was diagnosed with an ED within a week. GPs referred most participants to an ED specialist. Half the specialist referrals were wait-listed, with most seen within six weeks.

Whilst this study compares favourably to overseas studies that have reported lengthy delays, there is apparent room for improvement in the time delay associated with seeking help and gaining access to immediate care after being referred to an ED specialist.

The Eating Disorders Genetics Initiative aims to identify the hundreds of genes that influence a person’s risk of developing anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder, to improve treatment, and ultimately, save lives. To volunteer for EDGI, head here.

If you suspect that you, or a loved one, may be living with an eating disorder, reach out to your general practitioner without delay.

Should you need to talk to a trained counsellor about any mental health issue, contact the 1737 helpline; free call or text 1737 or visit





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