Ethical Issues Arising From the Treatment of Anorexia Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Ethics in Mental HealthCare (Anorexia)

Eating disorders consist of a variety of symptoms with psychological, social, and physical characteristics. While the physical complications associated with these disorders may cause significant concern to the family members and the health care team, bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa are two of the common eating disorders having substantial long-term social and physical sequelae that make recovery difficult. The long-term disabilities associated with these eating disorders include fertility, poor relationships, poor parenting, and negative influence on the employment. The impacts of one's eating disorder are significant at the family level as they carry the burden of the effects for a long period. In most cases, family members and the health care providers find difficulties in identifying the support needed by the affected. This essay analyzes the ethical issues surrounding the provision of health care to the anorexic patients and analyzes the ways, which the health care provider can respond efficiently to the needs of the anorexic patients. However, the essay will begin by discussing some of the behaviors and the factors that predispose individuals to anorexia (Dare 13).

According to the WHO, approximately one in every 250 females experience anorexia in female while one in 2000 males experience anorexia (Fairburn, Christopher 28). Anorexia commonly develops during the adolescence stage due factors such as the influence from the media and the society, sports, artistic activities, peer pressure, social isolation and realization of the perceived image of gender has more effect on the psychological well-being of an adolescent. Genetic predisposition also plays a significant role in predisposing individuals to anorexia. Children from families with a history of anorexia are twice at risk of becoming anorexic at one point of their livelihood as compared to children born to non-anorexic families (Keel, Pamel, and Klump 756). Some studies implicate certain environmental factors to play a role in predisposing individuals to anorexia. Interplay between the social factors and environmental factors makes management of anorexia a challenging process. The two creates a conflicting situation characterized by severe tension as each of them has a significant impact on the health and treatment behaviors required for its control.

Development of the eating disorders at the adolescence stage has a significant effect on the education of the victims. Depressed mood, which is a common feature due to the severe consequences and the nature of the distressing symptoms, makes it difficult for them to realize their academic goals. The adverse physical effects of anorexia, which is evident, include severe weight loss, purging behavior, and abnormal eating is always notable (Tan 18). Severe cases of anorexia prove fatal as may result in mortality and relapse. For example, according to Treasure, Janet (160), anorexia nervosa contributes to high mortality rates (15%) in the youths under the age of 20 years diagnosed with mental disorders. The statistics coincide with a report released by the WHO in the year 2012 that stated that, eating disorders contribute to the high rate of mortality among the adolescents diagnosed with any psychiatric disorder.

Diagnosing individuals with anorexia is far much difficult because more than half of the cases identified fail to be diagnosed in the primary care setups. As a result, the conditions progress to the severe state that makes hard for effective management. Factors like ambivalence, secrecy, denial, and shame create complexities associated with early diagnosis of anorexia. Effective management of anorexia relies on a detailed assessment of the psychological, physical, and risk status that influences them management of the condition. Other factors contributing to the challenges witnessed with the management of anorexia include organizational, financial, legal, and ethical dilemmas involved when providing care to the anorexic patients receiving/refusing to adhere to the treatment (Isserlin, Leanna, and Jennifer 48).

In-patients with severe anorexia, treatment options available in the health care setups diminish to the extent of threatening the life of the patient. In such scenarios, the question of introducing the most effective emergent intervention becomes a challenge owing to the ethical, medical, and legal issues surrounding the care and management of anorexic patients. Ethical issues related to the management of anorexia vary considerably across different jurisdictions. The pertinent issues that contribute to the variance in the ethical issues contribute to the ethical dilemma in the management of anorexic patients. Among the factors contributing to the variance include; differences in the conceptualization of anorexia as a mental disorder, the lack of clarity in the medical-legal aspects of capacity and competence in managing patients with anorexia, and the socio-cultural differences that influence the legal and medical provisions for the use of alternative approaches in treating patients with anorexia (Treasure, Janet 159).

As a result, managing anorexia raises many ethical issues that affect the care given to the anorexic patients. The issues have a strong relationship with the physical problems that complex the symptoms accompanying the condition. Unlike other diseases/disorders caused by microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria, anorexia is a conscious condition/disorder/disease. In addition, anorexia is a conscious disease as compared to other mental conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. Anorexic patients make conscious choices about their health behaviors and eating habits. The inability to control or make decisions on when to stop eating brings a difference to a healthy person. This creates an ethical dilemma because, many health care providers find asking themselves on the modalities of treating someone who chooses to inflict conditions for themselves (Fairburn, Christopher 27).

This implies that health care providers find it unethical and inhumane to force the anorexic patients to take healthy actions to manage the conditions inflicted by themselves. The health care providers also face the challenge of deciding when to provide treatment and when to stop it. The premise of defining the severity of the disease creates an ethical issue of the responsible parties required for designing a treatment plan for the patient. As a result, it creates an issue when deciding on the qualification of a design effective for the management of the anorexic patient. Empirical studies show that, issues of disagreement between the health care providers and the family affects the nature of the relationship and care needed by the patients. As such, this might result in cases of counter-transference, which affects the nature, and the method of care provided to the anorexic patients (Keel, Pamela, and Klump 762).

Severe cases of anorexia may be considered as a violation of the patient's rights. This includes violation of the patient's right to autonomy, no malfeasance, beneficence, and justice. Health care providers consider decisions like forcing them to adhere to some desired treatment program as unethical. In most cases, patients feel that their basic rights have been violated. Anorexic patients do not pose any risk to self and others; they do not have suicidal behaviors, although their behaviors contribute to their slow death. This raises the ethical issue since introducing therapeutic treatments against their will is a sign of violation of their rights thereby prosecutable by the law. Because of this, most health care providers face a dilemma of deciding on the best medical intervention applicable to managing anorexia without violating the patient's rights to quality and dignified care (Treasure, Janet 157).

Responding to anorexia by the health care providers is much challenging process than it seems to the eye. The treatment required by the patients varies significantly across the conditions. Empirical studies show that successful recovery from anorexia relies on the form of outpatient treatment employed. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been efficient in enabling the anorexic patients achieve their desired health status. Combining behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy provide significant improvement in the patient's condition. The strategies contribute to motivational enhancement: empathic understanding and reflective listening enhance discrepancies between the patient's beliefs on their health and motivation to change. Research shows that, avoiding argumentative flavor and judgmental attitude affects negatively on the outcomes of the management adopted by the health care providers (Isserlin, Leanna, and Jennifer 49).

Psychotherapy models and approaches such as family therapy can prove useful to the health care providers. Family therapy is effective in providing care to adolescents who still live with their parents. Family therapy works on the principle that, regardless of the condition one suffers from, involving the family in developing solutions to the problem is always beneficial to the clients. Family therapy techniques such as communication therapy, relationship education, reality therapy, and attachment therapy enhance the minimization of relapse incidences of the condition. In addition, family therapy provides patients with opportunities for setting realistic and common goals and objectives in collaboration with the family members. As a result, it provides opportunities for discussion and the development of supportive strategies aiming at helping the client overcome the anorexia (Lock and James 1030).

When a patient resists therapeutic treatment provided, it is necessary to establish honest relationship with the patient and provide honest information to the patient on issues related to treatment, results, and validating the symptoms related to the condition. It is after this that, health care providers provide cognitive restructuring services that elicits faulty thoughts…

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