How should the interventions be organised?
Conflicts may occur between sports representatives, who envisage good chances of success for an athlete on the one hand, and health personnel who emphasise the athlete’s health on the other. In the guidelines presented, it is a premise that health should take precedence over performance. Vagueness and uncertainty often result in a misconceived wait-and-see attitude. The role of trainers and managers includes having familiarity with such phenomena and an open attitude internally, and seeking advice. It is essential to be present as a trustworthy person, but trainers and managers should not assume the role of therapist.
It will be relevant to refer top athletes to the sports community’s own health services, such as the authors’ team under the auspices of Olympiatoppen. As a rule, facilitation of physical activity will be a very relevant intervention, but for many athletes this requirement to reduce the level of activity will not be sufficient to promote their motivation to cooperate. If the problems are perceived as being of a limited nature, assistance by a clinical nutritionist or another resource person with equivalent competence will be appropriate. The athletes and their support apparatus can easily obtain information from the project Healthy sports for girls, www.sunnjenteidrett.no, which, aside from knowledge dissemination, is a low-threshold service that also operates an advisory telephone hotline.
When an athlete has been diagnosed with an eating disorder, specific treatment is required. It is essential to clarify the distribution of responsibilities, and identify who will have the primary medical responsibility. The professionals must maintain sufficient communication between them to evince a modicum of shared understanding and attitudes in their relationship with the athlete and his or her family.