Reach Out and Recover: Intentions to seek treatment in individuals using online support for eating disorders Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE:The aim of this study was to explore characteristics and treatment-seeking intentions of consumers accessing an online resource for eating disorders support, Reach Out and Recover (ROAR). Factors associated with treatment-seeking intent among visitors to ROAR were also examined. METHOD:Participants were 200 visitors to the website aged 18 to 60 plus. The majority of participants (93.5%) identified as women. Responses to self-report questions assessing treatment-seeking intention, eating disorder symptoms and their impact on health, and attitudes to treatment were collected. RESULTS:Participants experienced a range of eating disorder symptoms, yet the majority (86.0%) was not receiving treatment. Importantly, of those not in treatment, the majority (82.6%) indicated that they planned to get treatment. In addition, more than half of participants (52.9%) downloaded a report to present to their health practitioner to facilitate communication with a health professional. Intention to seek treatment and download of the report were positively associated with motivation to change, confidence to achieve change, greater frequency of binge eating, and greater recognition of the impact of eating disorder symptoms on relationships and well-being but not with stigma or ambivalence. DISCUSSION:Study findings indicated that the ROAR website was accessed by individuals for whom it was designed, namely those experiencing eating disorder symptoms who are not receiving treatment. Encouragingly, participants had strong intentions to seek treatment, and the majority downloaded a report that could be used to facilitate the first step toward treatment. Greater focus on enhancing motivation and confidence to change may further promote treatment-seeking.

publication date

  • 2019