An open trial of self-help behaviours of clients with eating disorders in an online programme

Sau Fong Leung, Lai Chong Joyce Ma, Janice Russell

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Aim. The aim of this study was to evaluate the self-help behaviour of individuals with eating disorders in an Internet-based self-help programme developed in the Asia-Pacific region and to determine their compliance with the programme. Background. Eating disorders represent a growing health problem affecting both Western and Asian countries. Without timely and adequate treatment, individuals with eating disorders are at risk of premature death. Self-help approaches for treating eating disorders offer therapeutic promise. Design. An open trial design was used. Method. This study, conducted from August 2006-July 2011, included 280 participants recruited from outpatient eating disorder clinics and treatment units and through a university student newspaper and Internet websites. This open trial evaluated an Internet-based self-help programme, which included components on healthy eating, family education, health assessment, motivation enhancement, self-help strategies, and psychological health promotion. The progress of participants was followed up via monthly e-mails. A tracking system was implemented to determine their compliance with the programme. Findings. A small majority of the participants (56·9%) were already undergoing treatment for their eating disorders. About 63% (n=176) demonstrated self-help behaviour, as manifested by their completion of health assessment questionnaires, involvement in motivation enhancement exercises, or the use of self-help strategies such as monitoring, normalizing eating behaviour, and stress management. Improvements were observed in their eating disorder psychopathology, motivational stage of change and psychological health from baseline to the 1-month follow up. Conclusion. Internet-based self-help programmes for eating disorders are helpful adjuncts to professional treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-76
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • China
  • Eating disorders
  • Internet-based self-help programme
  • Nurses
  • Nursing
  • Self-help behaviour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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