Clinician-Led, Peer-Led, and Internet-Delivered Dissonance-Based Eating Disorder Prevention Programs: Acute Effectiveness of These Delivery Modalities

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Objective: Because independent trials have provided evidence for the efficacy and effectiveness of the dissonance-based Body Project eating disorder prevention program, the present trial tested whether clinicians produce the largest intervention effects, or whether delivery can be task-shifted to less expensive undergraduate peer educators or to Internet delivery without effect size attenuation, focusing on acute effects. Method: In this study, 680 young women (Mage = 22.2 years, SD = 7.1) recruited at colleges in 2 states were randomized to clinician-led Body Project groups, peer-led Body Project groups, the Internet-based eBody Project, or an educational video control condition. Results: Participants in all 3 variants of the Body Project intervention showed significantly greater reductions in eating disorder risk factors and symptoms than did educational video controls. Participants in clinician-led and peer-led Body Project groups showed significantly greater reductions in risk factors than did eBody Project participants, but effects for the 2 types of groups were similar. Eating disorder onset over 7-month follow-up was significantly lower for peer-led Body Project group participants versus eBody Project participants (2.2% vs. 8.4%) but did not differ significantly between other conditions. Conclusions: The evidence that all 3 dissonance-based prevention programs outperformed an educational video condition, that both group-based interventions outperformed the Internet-based intervention in risk factor reductions, and that the peer-led groups showed lower eating disorder onset over follow-up than did the Internet-based intervention is novel. These acute-effects data suggest that both group-based interventions produce superior eating disorder prevention effects than does the Internet-based intervention and that delivery can be task-shifted to peer leaders.

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