Can women maintain a positive sense of life satisfaction despite a compromised physical state? If so, how is this achieved? In order to address these issues, I am investigating the role of various control strategies in determining the subjective well-being of obese women as compared to women self-reporting eating disturbances. A preliminary qualitative study is being employed to investigate women's life experiences of 'control' using a 'photo voice' technique which requires participants to take 5 - 10 photographs of things that represent aspects of their life 'in control' and / or 'out of control,' as the case may be.
Photographs are being used as the starting point for individual semi-structured interviews with 15 obese women and 15 women reporting sub-clinical eating disturbances. Open ended questions facilitate the exploration of control strategies used to organise various aspects of their lives, including the coping strategies employed when things 'go wrong' or not 'according to plan.' Data gathered from the interviews will be used to adapt an existing primary and secondary control scale for use in a quantitative study designed to investigate the relationship between disordered eating behaviours, control strategies, and subjective well-being. Participants for this study will include approximately 300 women aged 18-65 years.