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A Survey of Attitudes towards Computerized Self-Help for Eating Disorders within a Community-Based Sample

  • Carrie-Anne McClay (a1), Louise Waters (a1), Ulrike Schmidt (a2) and Christopher Williams (a1)

Background: Bulimia nervosa (BN) is an eating disorder with many physical, psychological and social consequences. Guided self-help (GSH) is recommended in the treatment of BN (NICE, 2004). One of the ways in which to provide GSH is via the internet using evidence-based packages with regular support from a clinician or trained support worker. Aims: The aim of this community-based survey was to investigate attitudes towards online self-help for eating disorders and the support required whilst using such an approach. Method: Two-hundred and fifty-three participants with bulimic symptoms completed the survey. The sample was recruited primarily online. The mean age was 29.11 years (SD = 8.67; min = 16, max = 64). Results: Attitudes towards online self-help (SH) for eating disorders were very positive. The inclusion of some form of support to accompany such an intervention was important to the majority of participants. Remote mediums of support such as e-mail, a forum and text messaging were most often selected as helpful. Most participants expressed a preference for weekly support contacts and for flexible support lengths that could respond to support needs as required. Conclusions: Online self-help for eating disorders is a desirable treatment option for many individuals. The information gathered regarding preferences in the type, medium, duration and frequency of support could be used in the development of future self-help strategies in order to maximize uptake, retention and outcomes.

Corresponding author
Reprint requests to Christopher Williams, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Mental Health and Wellbeing, 1st Floor Admin. Building, Gartnavel Royal Hospital, 1055 Great Western Road, Glasgow G12 0XH, Scotland. E-mail:
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A Survey of Attitudes towards Computerized Self-Help for Eating Disorders within a Community-Based Sample

  • Carrie-Anne McClay (a1), Louise Waters (a1), Ulrike Schmidt (a2) and Christopher Williams (a1)
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