Longer-term follow-up of college students screening positive for anorexia nervosa: psychopathology, help seeking, and barriers to treatment

Ellen E. Fitzsimmons-Craft, Dawn M. Eichen, Grace E. Monterubio, Marie Laure Firebaugh, Neha J. Goel, C. Barr Taylor, Denise E. Wilfley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to conduct a longer-term (i.e., 9-month) follow-up of students identified with possible anorexia nervosa (AN) as part of the Healthy Body Image Program, an online platform for screening and delivering tailored feedback and interventions, offered at 36 US universities. Participants were 61 individuals who screened positive for AN and who completed the follow-up. Regarding results, some indices of ED pathology and psychiatric comorbidity decreased over time, while others did not. Participants most commonly endorsed feeling ashamed, nervous, validated, and sad in response to receiving the referral. One-third (33%) reported already being in treatment at the time they received the referral, 26% initiated treatment since that time, and 41% did not initiate treatment. The most common reasons for seeking treatment were emotional distress, concern with eating, and health concerns. The strongest treatment barriers were believing one should be able to help themselves, believing the problem was not serious enough to warrant treatment, and not having time. Findings highlight the high level of pathology in students identified with possible AN, even nine months after they were first identified and provided resources, and the relatively low rates of treatment utilization given the seriousness of these illnesses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-565
Number of pages17
JournalEating Disorders
Volume28
Issue number5-6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

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