The psychological impact of COVID-19 on people suffering from dysfunctional eating behaviours: a linguistic analysis of the contents shared in an online community during the lockdown

Submitted: June 23, 2021
Accepted: September 8, 2021
Published: December 20, 2021
Abstract Views: 1730
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Appendix: 91
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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) spread several months ago from China and it is now a global pandemic. The experience of lockdown has been an undesirable condition for people with mental health problems, including eating disorders. The present study has the aim of understanding the impact of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with selfreported disordered eating behaviours. A linguistic analysis was carried out with regard to the online posts and comments published by 1971 individuals (86% women) in a Facebook online community focusing on EDs during the lockdown. A total of 244 posts and 3603 comments were collected during the 56 days of lockdown (from the 10th of March until the 4th of May 2020) in Italy and were analysed by Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) software. The results showed that words related to peer support decreased in posts over time, and that anxiety and anger increased in the published comments. Moreover, greater feelings of negativity and anxiety were found in posts and comments throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as lesser use of words related to positive emotions. Thematic qualitative analysis revealed eight themes that described the main subjective components of ED symptomatology and distress during the first COVID-19 lockdown. The current findings can help in delivering tailored treatments to people with eating disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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How to Cite

Albano, G., Bonfanti, R. C., Gullo, S., Salerno, L., & Lo Coco, G. (2021). The psychological impact of COVID-19 on people suffering from dysfunctional eating behaviours: a linguistic analysis of the contents shared in an online community during the lockdown. Research in Psychotherapy: Psychopathology, Process and Outcome, 24(3). https://doi.org/10.4081/ripppo.2021.557

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