Exploring social media recruitment strategies and preliminary acceptability of an mhealth tool for teens with eating disorders

Erin Kasson, Melissa M. Vázquez, Christine Doroshenko, Ellen E. Fitzsimmons-Craft, Denise E. Wilfley, C. Barr Taylor, Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

(1) Background: The current study leveraged social media to connect with teens with EDs to identify population specific characteristics and to gather feedback on an mHealth intervention. (2) Methods: We recruited teens with EDs from social media in two phases: (1) Discovery Group, (2) Testing Group. The Discovery Group (n = 14) participants were recruited from Facebook/Instagram and were asked to review the app for up to one week and provide qualitative feedback. After incorporating feedback from the Discovery Group, we refined our social media outreach methods to connect with 30 teens with EDs to pilot this mobile app. Recruitment from a variety of platforms on social media was successful, with the majority of enrolled participants in the Testing Group coming from Snapchat (60%) and a large percentage of participants belonging to gender and sexual minority groups (63%). (3) Results: Participants from both groups experienced extremely high rates of depression (100% Discovery, 90% Testing) and/or anxiety symptoms (100% Discovery, 93% Testing) in addition to ED symptoms, and noted this as a possible barrier to app engagement. (4) Conclusion: Use of social media for recruitment of teens with EDs is feasible and may connect with groups who may be more difficult to reach using traditional recruitment methods. Among the Discovery Group there was high acceptability of and interest in an app to support ED recovery, and characteristics of both groups demonstrated need for support in other mental health domains. Future studies should evaluate the preliminary efficacy of such tools among teens to determine the effects of such interventions on ED symptoms and other mental health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7979
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Volume18
Issue number15
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2021

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Eating disorders
  • MHealth
  • Social media
  • Teens

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