Psychiatry - Theses

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    A Comparison of an internet-based and face-to-face group intervention to modify body dissatisfaction and disturbed eating in young women
    Gollings, Emma Kate ( 2003-01)
    Objective: This study compared the effectiveness of a new manual-based group intervention program, The Body Image and Eating Behaviour Program, for women with sub-clinical body dissatisfaction and disturbed eating behaviours, using two delivery modes: a traditional Face-to-Face group intervention and an Internet-based intervention with interactive on-line group sessions in synchronous time. The program was conducted weekly over an 8-session period. Predictors of a good treatment outcome for the intervention program were examined with both delivery modes combined. Methods: Participants (18-30 year old women) were recruited by advertisements on Melbourne university campuses and at community health agencies. They were randomly assigned to group (Face-to-Face group n=19, Internet-based group n=21). Body dissatisfaction, disturbed eating behaviours, psychological status, and stage of change were assessed using standardized instruments prior to and immediately after the intervention, and at two months follow. Results: A 2 (group) X 3 (testing occasions) within subjects repeated measures analysis of variance was used to examine time and between group differences. Significant improvements on all clinical outcome variables were observed at post-test and maintained at follow-up in both groups. However, there were no significant between group differences. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were used to examine predictors of treatment outcome at follow-up. Milder depression scores predicted greater improvement in binge eating frequency while a greater improvement in bulimic pathology and self-esteem at follow-up was predicted by more severe body dissatisfaction scores. Stage of change before treatment was not a predictor of outcome. Qualitative research demonstrated that the Internet-based delivery mode was a less confronting way of seeking help and a convenient and supportive medium to disclose personal information. However, participants had more difficulty exploring deeper psychological issues in the Internet-based group and forming close bonds with each other due to the speed and flow of the discussion. Discussion: The treatment program was valuable in both delivery modes and was found to be very acceptable by participants. The Internet, with the potential to over-come obstacles of distance and provide a discrete mode of treatment delivery, showed promising results at improving body satisfaction and disturbed eating behaviours in young women. Findings demonstrated inconclusive evidence for predictors of a good treatment outcome.