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Eat Behav. 2017 Apr;25:68-73. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2016.03.020. Epub 2016 Apr 9.

Understanding and promoting treatment-seeking for eating disorders and body image concerns on college campuses through online screening, prevention and intervention.

Author information

1
University of Michigan School of Public Health, Department of Health Management & Policy, 1415 Washington Heights M3517, SPH II, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA; University of Michigan School of Education, Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education, 610 East University Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA. Electronic address: sklipson@umich.edu.
2
Lantern, 589 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA; Medical University of Vienna, Spitalgasse 23, 1090, Wien, Austria.
3
Department of Psychiatry, Stanford University, 401 Quarry Road, Stanford, CA 94305, USA; Palo Alto University, 1791 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA.
4
Washington University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Campus Box 8134, 660 S. Euclid Avenue, St. Louis, MO 6311, USA.
5
University of California, San Diego, Department of Pediatrics, 9500 Gilman Drive, MC 0874, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.
6
University of Michigan School of Public Health, Department of Health Management & Policy, 1415 Washington Heights M3517, SPH II, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA; University of Michigan, Population Studies Center, Institute for Social Research, 426 Thompson Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, USA.

Abstract

While there have been important recent advances in the development of effective universal prevention and intervention programs, it is not yet clear how to engage large numbers of students in these programs. In this paper, we report findings from a two-phase pilot study. In the first phase, we used a population-level, online survey to assess eating disorder symptom level and habits/attitudes related to service utilization (N=2180). Using validated screening tools, we found that roughly one in three students has significant symptoms of eating disorders or elevated weight concerns, the vast majority of whom (86.5%) have not received treatment. In the second phase, we referred students to online prevention and selective/indicated intervention programs based on symptom classification (N=1916). We find that program enrollment is highest for students in the indicated intervention (18.1%) and lowest for students in the universal prevention (4.1%). We find that traditionally-emphasized barriers such as stigma, misinformation, and financial limitations do not appear to be the most important factors preventing treatment-seeking. Rather students report not seeking help for reasons such as lack of time, lack of perceived need, and a desire to deal with the issue "on my own." Findings offer insight into the treatment-seeking habits and attitudes of college students, including those barriers that may be overcome by offering online programs and those that persist despite increased access to and convenience of relevant resources.

KEYWORDS:

College students; Eating disorders; Prevention; Treatment-seeking

PMID:
27117825
PMCID:
PMC5403617
DOI:
10.1016/j.eatbeh.2016.03.020
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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