Adapting a mobile app to support patients with anorexia nervosa following post-acute care: perspectives from eating disorder treatment center stakeholders

Anneliese Haas, Agatha A. Laboe, Claire G. McGinnis, Marie Laure Firebaugh, Jillian Shah, Anna M. Bardone-Cone, Kathleen M. Pike, C. Barr Taylor, Denise E. Wilfley, Ellen E. Fitzsimmons-Craft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a harmful, life-threatening illness. Patients with severe AN often receive acute treatment but, upon discharge, experience high relapse rates. Evidence-based, outpatient treatment following acute care is critical to preventing relapse; however, numerous barriers (e.g., location, financial limitations, low availability of providers) preclude individuals from accessing treatment. mHealth technologies may help to address these barriers, but research on such digital approaches for those with AN is limited. Further, such technologies should be developed with all relevant stakeholder input considered from the outset. As such, the present study aimed to garner feedback from eating disorder (ED) treatment center providers on (1) the process of discharging patients to outpatient services, (2) their experiences with technology as a treatment tool, and (3) how future mHealth technologies may be harnessed to offer the most benefit to patients in the post-acute period. Methods: Participants (N = 11, from 7 ED treatment centers across the United States) were interviewed. To analyze the data for this study, each interview was manually transcribed and analyzed using components of Braun and Clarke's six-phase thematic analysis framework (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Results: Participants indicated proactively securing outpatient care for their patients, but mentioned several barriers their patients face in accessing evidence-based ED treatment. All participants had some experience using various technologies for treatment (e.g., teletherapy, self-monitoring apps), and mentioned a high level of interest in the development of a new app to be used by patients recently discharged from acute treatment for AN. Participants also offered suggestions of effective and relevant content for a potential app and adjunctive social networking component for post-acute care of AN. Discussion: Overall, participants expressed positive attitudes toward the integration of an app into the care flow, suggesting the high potential benefit of harnessing technology to support individuals recovering from AN.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1099718
JournalFrontiers in Digital Health
StatePublished - 2023


  • anorexia nervosa
  • eating disorders
  • mobile intervention
  • post-acute treatment
  • social networking
  • stakeholder engagement


Dive into the research topics of 'Adapting a mobile app to support patients with anorexia nervosa following post-acute care: perspectives from eating disorder treatment center stakeholders'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this