A systematic digital approach to implementation and dissemination of eating disorders interventions to large populations identified through online screening: implications for post-traumatic stress

C. Barr Taylor, Josef I. Ruzek, Ellen E. Fitzsimmons-Craft, Andrea K. Graham, Katherine N. Balantekin


Background: We describe an approach to implementation and dissemination that focuses on changing outcomes variables within a large, defined population and attempts to provide cost-effective opportunities and resources—which might include the provision of both digital and traditional interventions—to address individual needs and interests. We present a case example of how aspects of this model are being applied to increase reach, engagement and outcomes for individuals who complete a national eating disorders screen, and are likely to have an eating disorder but who are not in treatment. We then describe how this model can apply to post-traumatic stress (PTS) and conclude with a discussion of limitations and issues with the model.
Methods: The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) provides online screening for eating disorders.
Results: From February 2017 through March 2018, over 200,000 individuals completed the NEDA screen. Of these, 96% screened positive or at risk for an eating disorder, and most of those who screened positive for a clinical/subclinical eating disorder were not currently in treatment. Less than 10% engaged in self-help or guided self-help online digital program, or expressed interest in calling a helpline for referral to treatment.
Conclusions: A systematic digital approach to implementation and dissemination has the potential to increase the number of individuals who benefit from interventions in defined populations. Uptake rates need to be improved.