Digital guided self-help for eating disorders: thematic analysis of participant text messages to coaches

Shiri Sadeh-Sharvit, Orly Idan, Lauren A. Fowler, Ellen E. Fitzsimmons-Craft, Marie Laure Firebaugh, Arielle Smith, Andrea K. Graham, Neha J. Goel, Rachael E. Flatt, Katherine N. Balantekin, Grace E. Monterubio, Anna M. Karam, Burkhardt Funk, Mickey T. Trockel, Denise E. Wilfley, C. Barr Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Digital guided self-help for eating disorders (GSH-ED) can reduce treatment disparities. Understanding program participants’ interests throughout the program can help adapt programs to the service users’ needs. Participants were 383 college students receiving a digital GSH-ED, who were each assigned a coach to help them better utilize the intervention through text correspondence. A thematic and affective analysis of the texts participants had sent found they primarily focused on: strategies for changing their ED-related cognitions, behaviors, and relationships; describing symptoms without expressing an active endeavor to change; and participants’ relationship with their coach. Most texts also expressed affect, demonstrating emotional engagement with the intervention. Findings suggest that participants in GSH-ED demonstrate high involvement with the intervention, and discuss topics that are similar to those reported in clinician-facilitated interventions. The themes discussed by digital program participants can inform future iterations of GSH-ED, thereby increasing scalability and accessibility of digital evidence-based ED interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-199
Number of pages9
JournalEating Disorders
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023


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