Depressive symptoms, alcohol and other drug use, and suicide risk: Prevention and treatment effects from a two-country online eating disorder risk reduction trial

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Abstract

Objective: Eating disorders are known to have high comorbidity, and the current report outlines the impact of an online eating disorder risk reduction program on brief, self-report measures of depressive symptoms, alcohol and other drug use, and suicidality. Method: An online pragmatic, randomized-controlled trial was conducted with N = 316 young-women (M age = 20.80 years) across Australia and New Zealand. Media Smart-Targeted (MS-T) was a 9-module program released weekly while control participants received positive body image tips. Prevention effects (asymptomatic at baseline) and treatment effects (symptomatic at baseline) were investigated. Results: MS-T participants were 94% and 91% less likely than controls to develop Moderate or higher depressive symptoms at 6-month (MS-T = 3.3%; controls = 35.4%) and 12-month follow-up (MS-T = 3.4%; controls = 29.4%), respectively. MS-T participants did not commence using recreational drugs at any assessment point, compared to 18.2% of controls at a least one assessment point. Regarding treatment effects, MS-T participants were 84% more likely to no longer be using recreational drugs at 12-month follow-up (MS-T = 60%; controls = 21.1%). Mutitvariate logistic regressions revealed group, depressive symptoms and alcohol use to be significant predictors of elevated suicide risk, where being an MS-T participant, without depressive symptoms and not drinking alcohol, significantly lowered likelihood of developing elevated suicide risk. Disordered eating at post-program mediated the relationship between group and depressive symptoms across post-program to 12-mnoth follow-up. Discussion: MS-T shows promise as a program with important mental health benefits in addition to previous reports of lowered eating disorder diagnosis, risk and impairment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-141
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Volume52
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019

Keywords

  • depression
  • early intervention
  • eating disorders
  • online
  • prevention
  • substance use
  • suicide

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