An App-Based Blended Intervention to Reduce Body Dissatisfaction: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study

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Abstract

Objective: As a common experience in the general population, dissatisfaction with one’s body is associated with a variety of psychological problems and unhealthy behaviors, including the development of eating disorders. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to develop and evaluate an app-based intervention to reduce body dissatisfaction. Method: Participants reporting elevated levels of body dissatisfaction were randomly allocated to an app-based intervention (n = 26) or to a wait list group (n = 27). The app-based intervention included a brief counseling session and 14 days of training with the Mindtastic Body Dissatisfaction app (MT-BD). The MT-BD app uses gamification strategies to systematically foster approach of functional and avoidance of dysfunctional stimuli. The primary outcome was body dissatisfaction as assessed with the Body Dissatisfaction scale of the Eating Disorder Inventory-2 (Garner, 1991). Secondary outcome measures included severity of eating disorder symptoms and depressive symptoms. Results: Participants in the intervention group showed significantly greater reductions in body dissatisfaction compared to the wait list group (d = −0.62). The intervention group also showed greater reductions in eating disorder symptoms compared to the wait list group (d = −0.46). Reductions in body dissatisfaction and eating disorder symptoms were sustained at a 1-month follow-up. Conclusion: We found preliminary evidence that an app-based intervention may significantly reduce body dissatisfaction. Further research using larger samples and targeting clinical populations is necessary to evaluate the potential of interventions such as MT-BD.

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