Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 8, pp 2574–2583 | Cite as

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

  • Gila ChenEmail author
Original Paper


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.


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


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The author declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Bar-Ilan University’s institutional review board and national research committees and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of CriminologyAshkelon Academic CollegeAshkelonIsrael

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