Ana and her web?: an investigation into Internet use in adults with an eating disorder

Harrison Yuill, Faye (2013) Ana and her web?: an investigation into Internet use in adults with an eating disorder. DClinPsy thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The aim of the study was to explore the use of the internet in adults with an eating disorder. Previous evidence has suggested that people with an eating disorder are likely to access websites that are associated with their eating disorder (Wilson, Peebles, Hardy & Litt, 2006). The researcher hypothesised that the scores on measures of stage of change, self-efficacy for recovery, eating disorder symptoms, and perceived social support would be different depending upon the type of website accessed. A cross-sectional survey was administered online.

45 participants were recruited from specialist eating disorder services, support groups and via the eating disorder charity B-eat. Survey responses were anonymous and the survey content included measures related to the hypothesis as well as questions regarding internet use associated with eating disorders.

The results of this study show that the majority of the participants accessed websites associated with eating disorders. Most participants visited pro-recovery websites, some visited pro-eating disorder websites, and a small minority accessed both types of websites. The majority of the participants in this study visited these websites for social support. However, those who accessed pro-eating disorder websites also visited with the intention of triggering eating disorder behaviour. Nonetheless, no differences were found between those who accessed pro-eating disorder websites or pro-recovery websites on any measures.

However, those who accessed both types of website (pro-recovery and pro-eating disorder) had significantly higher levels of weight concern. As participants who accessed both types of website were less likely to be accessing treatment, and had more incidences of hospitalisation than those who accessed pro-recovery websites or pro-eating disorder websites exclusively, the difference in weight concern scores may be more related to whether treatment is being sought than website use. Whilst adults with an eating disorder may access websites associated with eating disorders, this does not appear to increase levels of perceived social support. Additionally, accessing pro-eating disorder websites did not appear related to eating disorder severity. Therefore this study suggests that pro-eating disorder websites may not influence behaviour as feared by professionals.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (DClinPsy)
Supervisors: Rennoldson, M.
Miatt, J.
Subjects: W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WM Psychiatry
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Item ID: 13589
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2014 13:52
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2017 07:05

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