Eating disorder symptoms and comorbid mental health risk among teens recruited to a digital intervention research study via two online approaches

Erin Kasson, Hannah S. Szlyk, Xiao Li, Anna Constantino-Pettit, Arielle C. Smith, Melissa M. Vázquez, Denise E. Wilfley, C. Barr Taylor, Ellen E. Fitzsimmons-Craft, Patricia Cavazos-Rehg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: It is crucial to identify and evaluate feasible, proactive ways to reach teens with eating disorders (EDs) who may not otherwise have access to screening or treatment. This study aimed to explore the feasibility of recruiting teens with EDs to a digital intervention study via social media and a publicly available online ED screen, and to compare the characteristics of teens recruited by each approach in an exploratory fashion. Method: Teens aged 14–17 years old who screened positive for a clinical/subclinical ED or at risk for an ED and who were not currently in ED treatment completed a baseline survey to assess current ED symptoms, mental health comorbidities, and barriers to treatment. Bivariate analyses were conducted to examine differences between participants recruited via social media and those recruited after completion of a widely available online EDs screen (i.e., National Eating Disorders Association [NEDA] screen). Results: Recruitment of teens with EDs using the two online approaches was found to be feasible, with 934 screens completed and a total of 134 teens enrolled over 6 months: 77% (n = 103) via social media 23% (n = 31) via the NEDA screen. Mean age of participants (N = 134) was 16 years old, with 49% (n = 66) identifying as non-White, and 70% (n = 94) identifying as a gender and/or sexual minority. Teens from NEDA reported higher ED psychopathology scores (medium effect size) and more frequent self-induced vomiting and driven exercise (small effect sizes). Teens from NEDA also endorsed more barriers to treatment, including not feeling ready for treatment and not knowing where to find a counselor or other resources (small effect sizes). Discussion: Online recruitment approaches in this study reached a large number of teens with an interest in a digital intervention to support ED recovery, demonstrating the feasibility of these outreach methods. Both approaches reached teens with similar demographic characteristics; however, teens recruited from NEDA reported higher ED symptom severity and barriers to treatment. Findings suggest that proactive assessment and intervention methods should be developed and tailored to meet the needs of each of these groups. Public Significance: This study examined the feasibility of recruiting teens with EDs to a digital intervention research study via social media and NEDA's online screen, and demonstrated differences in ED symptoms among participants by recruitment approach.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • barriers to treatment
  • eating disorders
  • mHealth
  • screening
  • social media
  • teens

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Eating disorder symptoms and comorbid mental health risk among teens recruited to a digital intervention research study via two online approaches'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this