Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Gwen V. Mitchell

Second Advisor

Judith E. Fox

Third Advisor

Tamara Pryor


Acculturative stress, Anorexia nervosa (AN), Binge eating disorder (BED), Bulimia disorder (BN), Disordered eating (DE), Eating disorders (EDs), Immigrant, Refugee, Social suffering, Trauma, PTSD


Eating Disorders (ED)/Disordered Eating (DE) largely remain outside of global mental health agendas. There are limited data on the epidemiology EDs/DE in refugee and immigrant populations, and there is a paucity of research on refugee and immigrant experiences of EDs/DE. Study of acculturation issues in refugee and immigrant populations have historically missed investigating what role and impact experiences of stress and trauma (e.g., historical, chronic) along with cultural change and transition may have on their food attitudes and eating behaviors. While there has been some study of eating habits within refugee and immigrant populations, the focus is typically on food acculturation with regard to the consumption of foreign foods and, in some cases, the highlighting of new-to-population physical health concerns, such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Screening and treatment for EDs/DE has historically attributed them to a stereotyped White, female, Western-world, and middle-class phenomenon. This myopic focus has potentially created a health disparity for refugees and immigrants in general, and specifically for non-White members of these populations, from the resulting lack of research and screening for EDs/DE risks in these communities. Mental health clinicians and humanitarian organizations can be better equipped to screen, assess, and treat refugees and immigrants through recognizing how problematic ED/DE behaviors can emerge from the intersection of societies in transition, acculturative stress, social suffering, trauma/PTSD, and interpersonal disruption within their experiences.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.

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