Are Two Interventions Worse Than None? Joint Primary and Secondary Prevention of Eating Disorders in College Females

  • Mann T
  • Nolen-Hoeksema S
  • Huang K
 et al. 
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Prevention programs for eating disorders attempt to simultaneously prevent new cases from arising (primary prevention) and encourage students who already have symptoms to seek early treatment (secondary prevention), even though ideal strategies for these 2 types of prevention may be incompatible with each other. In the present study, an eating disorder prevention program was evaluated in a simple of female college freshmen. In the intervention, classmates who had recovered from eating disorders described their experiences and provided information about eating disorders. At follow-up, intervention participants had slightly more symptoms of eating disorders than did controls. The program may have been ineffective in preventing eating disorders because by reducing the stigma of these disorders (to encourage students with problems to seek help), the program may have inadvertently normalized them.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Eating disorders
  • Primary prevention
  • Secondary prevention

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  • Susan Nolen-Hoeksema

  • Karen Huang

  • Debora Burgard

  • Alexi Wright

  • Kaaren Hanson

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