Eating Disorders in an Israeli Women’s Prison: Correlates of the Risk

Gila Chen

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1 Scopus citations


Extensive rates of child abuse and neglect (CAN), substance abuse disorders (SUDs), and mental health problems have been reported among incarcerated women. The link between CAN, SUDs, and eating disorders is well-documented, but little is known about the eating-disorder behaviors of incarcerated women. The purpose of this study was (a) to explore eating-disorder behaviors among incarcerated women in Israel; (b) to examine whether certain types of CAN are associated with eating disorders; and (c) to study the link between CAN, SUDs, mental health problems, and eating disorders. This cross-sectional study investigated eating-disorder behaviors in a sample of 62 incarcerated women in Israel. The findings indicated a high prevalence of eating disorders among incarcerated women; almost 70% exhibited the drive for thinness, which is considered a central feature of eating disorders. In addition, the findings revealed a high prevalence of CAN (84.2%), especially emotional abuse (57.9%) and emotional neglect (73.7%). I also found a high rate of co-occurrence of CAN, SUDs, mental health problems, and eating disorders. Bulimia nervosa, ineffectiveness, and low impulse regulation were found to be associated with SUDs and mental health problems (p = 0.006, p = 0.032, and p < 0.001, respectively). The findings highlight the intersection of trauma with self-destructive behaviors, including co-occurrences of SUDs, eating disorders, and severe mental health problems as a result of negative childhood experiences, suggesting a need for simultaneous treatment interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2574-2583
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Childhood abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Incarcerated women
  • Mental health problems
  • Substance misuse
  • Trauma


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