Mixed Methods Research
Butterfly Foundation MAYDAYS Campaign
As a part of Butterfly Foundation’s 2019 MAYDAYS campaign, Carers Need Care Too, Vogl & Blake facilitated social research with carers of individuals who are experiencing eating disorders. Butterfly sought to better understand the impact of eating disorders on carers and the findings from this research were used by Butterfly to compile a report and to inform their 2019 MAYDAYS campaign.
Founded in 2002, Butterfly Foundation is the national charity for all Australians impacted by eating disorders and body image issues, and for the families, friends and communities who support them. Butterfly is dedicated to prevention and early intervention, stigma reduction, and increased accessibility to appropriate care and services for those suffering.
The MAYDAYS Campaign
Butterfly Foundation launched the MAYDAYS campaign in 2016 as an annual awareness, fundraising, and advocacy campaign to address key concerns relating to eating disorders. It played a crucial role in advocating for treatment, health system reform and calling attention to the daily lived experiences of those impacted by eating disorders. With a different focus each year, MAYDAYS 2019, Carers Need Care Too, concerned the needs and experiences of carers of people with an eating disorder.
Vogl & Blake assisted the MAYDAYS campaign by conducting research to help Butterfly Foundation develop a broad and nuanced understanding of the experiences of those who care for people with eating disorders. Butterfly sought to better understand what types of support would be most effective and beneficial for carers to reduce the negative impacts of caring and inform their advocacy.
“Issues with my own mental health have become more apparent and acute as my daughter’s ED is heading closer to recovery. I feel that the sustained levels of stress and anxiety over the years in which she was most unwell are now having an effect, despite the relief, hope and joy of seeing recovery as a reality.”
Vogl & Blake used a mixed methods approach for this project. A combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods was used to reach a diverse range of carers and to ensure comprehensive findings.
Anonymous online survey
468 carers of individuals with eating disorders participated in a survey allowing Vogl & Blake to gather a broad understanding of this carer population. The survey contained 18 questions and consisted of both forced choice and openended questions to gather statistical information as well as rich commentary. The survey questions focused on exploring the carer’s role, their access to support systems, and how caring impacted their quality of life. Quantitative questions were analysed using statistical software package SPSS, whilst open-ended questions were thematically analysed.
In-depth semi-structured interviews
13 in-depth semi-structured phone interviews were conducted with a diverse range of carers to gather rich and inclusive information, which were transcribed and thematically analyzed. Careers included fathers, mothers, friends, siblings and a partner caring for individuals at various stages of their eating disorder.
The survey and interviews offered consistent insights surrounding the severity and magnitude of the negative impacts that eating disorders have on a carer’s quality of life and ability to care for themselves. Despite their circumstantial differences, carers shared a critical need for resources and support as well as a universal desire
for hope. Areas of substantial impact included mental and physical health, finances, careers, studies, and personal relationships, particularly familial as they often had to de-prioritise other children.
Many carers felt resources for those with eating disorders should take priority before addressing their own self-care, and that this would help relieve some of their distress as carers. However, the negative impacts of caring proved intense and persistent making it important for carers to get support and resources to address their own needs which would subsequently benefit those they care for.