Philippa Booth (RCM) - 2023-24 Students

Eating Disorders in Musicians: A Mixed-Methods Exploration

This research project aims to investigate eating disorders (EDs) in musicians, examining the risk factors that lead to their development and how this knowledge can be used to design more effective treatment/prevention methods. Current research on the topic is scarce and contains contradictions, but the small body of studies suggests that EDs may disproportionately affect musicians when compared to the general population. ED research in general is severely underfunded in the UK, despite the potentially fatal consequences of the conditions, and there is an urgent need for improvement in treatment and prevention methods as numbers of ED-related hospital admissions reach record highs.

The determinants that contribute to the development of EDs in other performance disciplines such as dance and sport have been subject to considerable research over the years, but it is unclear as to whether the findings regarding prevalence, determinants, and experiences generalise to the musical domain. This project therefore aims to further understand 1) the prevalence rate of EDs among musicians in the context of their professional, psychological, health, and demographic characteristics; 2) the determinants of EDs among musicians; 3) the individual experiences of musicians who have been diagnosed with an ED; and 4) what support might prevent the development of EDs in musicians, or benefit musicians who have experienced disordered eating.

Primary supervisor: Professor Rosie Perkins

Secondary supervisor: Dr Neta Spiro

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