Eating disorders

Mental health

At a glance

Remote healthcare for eating disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic

Lead researcher

Dr Dawn Branley-Bell


Northumbria University



Amount awarded


Last updated



Dr Dawn Branley-Bell from Northumbria University is exploring what we can learn about the causes, prevention and future treatment of eating disorders following the rapid transition to remote care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dawn Branley Bell Picture Dr Dawn Branley-Bell

Recent research by Dr Branley-Bell suggests that many individuals with eating disorders have experienced worsened symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic, and reported concerns around the suitability of healthcare delivered remotely.

Dr Branley-Bell will work alongside people with lived experience of eating disorders, healthcare providers, eating disorder charities, technology designers and other experts in the field to identify why symptoms worsened during the pandemic and to explore the challenges experienced with remote treatment.

This research will help to improve our understanding of eating disorders, and will also inform future healthcare, technology design, guidance and policy.

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Mental health - eating disorders and self-harm

  • Why is there a need to fund new research?

    In 2017 we identified eating disorders and self-harm as an area of mental health where we could make a real difference. These are devastating conditions which blight the lives of increasing numbers of young people and their families.

    Around 1.2 million people in the UK have an eating disorder. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, and other eating disorders such as bulimia can lead to severe medical complications.

    The UK’s rates of self-harm are among the highest in Europe and have increased steadily over the past decade. Repeated self-harm results in around 150,000 attendances at accident and emergency departments each year and is one of the top five causes of acute medical admission.

    Despite the devastating impact of these life-threatening disorders, our understanding of what drives them to develop is still limited.

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