Interpersonal interactions on online forums addressing eating concerns
ABSTRACT Although some research suggests that online eating disorder forums promote "pro-eating-disorder" lifestyles and discourage recovery, other research suggests that such forums are an important source of interpersonal support. The current study extends this research by exploring the positive and negative behaviors encouraged on these forums and by comparing forum members' perceptions of support received from online and offline relationships to support received in relationships of age-matched controls.
In a survey of 60 forum members, we assessed information exchanged and support provided on eating disorder forums. Further, we assessed perceptions of social support for general and specific life concerns in this group of forum members as well as 64 age-matched university controls.
Results show that both adaptive and maladaptive behaviors are encouraged on the forums, and that this encouragement has some influence on forum members trying out these behaviors. Overall, forum members reported receiving less support for their eating concerns as compared to their general life stressors, and they perceived less support for both their general concerns and eating concerns in their offline relationships as compared to their online forum relationships. Moreover, forum members reported receiving less support from their offline relationships as compared to support received in relationships by age-matched controls.
Forum members perceive less support in their important relationships than other peers do, and they seek out and participate in forums as a means of attaining greater social support. However, our research suggests that these forums also encourage dysregulated eating behaviors. Implications of online forum support and its impact on recovery are discussed further.
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ABSTRACT: In this cross-sectional study, we investigated the influence of personal BMI on body size estimation in 42 women who have symptoms of anorexia (referred to henceforth as anorexia spectrum disorders, ANSD), and 100 healthy controls. Low BMI control participants over-estimate their size and high BMI controls under-estimate, a pattern which is predicted by a perceptual phenomenon called contraction bias. In addition, control participants' sensitivity to size change declines as their BMI increases as predicted by Weber's law. The responses of women with ANSD are very different. Low BMI participants who have ANSD are extremely accurate at estimating body size and are very sensitive to changes in body size in this BMI range. However, as BMI rises in the ANSD participant group, there is a rapid increase in over-estimation concurrent with a rapid decline in sensitivity to size change. We discuss the results in the context of signal detection theory. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.Body image 03/2015; 13:75-85. DOI:10.1016/j.bodyim.2015.01.001 · 2.19 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Student Bodies, an internet-based intervention, has successfully reduced weight/shape concerns and prevented eating disorders in a subset of college-age women at highest risk for an eating disorder. Student Bodies includes an online, guided discussion group; however, the clinical utility of this component is unclear. This study investigated whether the guided discussion group improves program efficacy in reducing weight/shape concerns in women at high risk for an eating disorder. Exploratory analyses examined whether baseline variables predicted who benefitted most. Women with high weight/shape concerns (N=151) were randomized to Student Bodies with a guided discussion group (n=74) or no discussion group (n=77). Regression analyses showed weight/shape concerns were reduced significantly more among guided discussion group than no discussion group participants (p = 0.002; d = 0.52); guided discussion group participants had 67% lower odds of having high-risk weight/shape concerns post-intervention (p = 0.02). There were no differences in binge eating at post-intervention between the two groups, and no moderators emerged as significant. Results suggest the guided discussion group improves the efficacy of Student Bodies in reducing weight/shape concerns in college students at high risk for an eating disorder.Behaviour Research and Therapy 10/2014; 63. DOI:10.1016/j.brat.2014.09.010 · 3.85 Impact Factor
01/2011; 8(1). DOI:10.5944/ap.8.1.197