What are the effects of providing evidence-based information on eating disorders and their treatments? A randomized controlled trial in a symptomatic community sample Academic Article uri icon


  • AIM: We hypothesize that a reason for the infrequent uptake of treatments by people with eating disorders is poor knowledge about treatments and outcomes for eating disorders (ED-Mental Health Literacy; ED-MHL). Our aim was to test putative health benefits of a brief ED-MHL intervention. METHODS: In a community-based two-phase survey, 122 young women (mean age 28.5 SD 6.3 years) with ED symptoms meeting DSM-IV criteria for clinical severity were randomized to receive either a brief ED-MHL intervention (comprising information about efficacious treatments, reputable self-help books and where to go for further information and/or services) or information about local mental health services only. All were given feedback on their scores on measures of ED symptoms and quality of life. ED-MHL, ED symptoms and health-related quality of life were assessed prior to the intervention and at 6- and 12-month follow-up. RESULTS: One hundred and two participants (84%) completed follow-up at 12 months. Symptomatic improvement and changes in specific aspects of ED-MHL, namely, less pessimism about how difficult EDs are to treat and improved recognition and knowledge, as well as increased help seeking, were observed in both groups. Differences between groups were uncommon but compared with control participants, those in the intervention group had improved health-related quality of life. CONCLUSIONS: A brief community-based intervention aimed to improve knowledge and beliefs about EDs and their treatments may be a valuable first step in improving health-related outcomes for people with ED, but more research is needed.


  • Hay, Phillipa
  • Mond, Jonathan
  • Paxton, Susan
  • Rodgers, Bryan
  • Darby, Anita
  • Owen, Cathy

publication date

  • January 1, 2007