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Body project: a single-subject approach to analyze change over time

1 January 2016


Given the higher rates of eating disorders among college-aged women, the functional impairment these disorders cause, and the barriers to effective treatment, prevention methods that are developed for this population and easily disseminated are ideal. The Body Project is one cognitive dissonance-based program shown to have efficacy and effectiveness up to three years after group participation in reduction of risk factors associated with development of an eating disorder: internalization of the thin-ideal, body dissatisfaction, unhealthy dieting, and negative affect. The present study examines the prevention program’s effectiveness through the use of single-subject design to elucidate effects through repeated measurement of thin-ideal internalization, body dissatisfaction, unhealthy dieting behavior, and negative affect through baseline, intervention, and post-intervention over eight weeks. The study included five college-aged, female students who participated in Body Project. Data were graphed and visually analyzed. Results indicate that the group successfully reduces levels of risk factor level for participants, the group’s effectiveness varies based on participant pre-group level of risk factor and the specific constellation of thin-ideal internalization and eating disordered behavior, and there were mixed findings related to thin-ideal internalization mediating group effectiveness and negative affect impacting group effectiveness. Future directions for Body Project may include risk-specific variations of the prevention group, pre-screening for other distress and diagnoses that may impact effectiveness of Body Project, and development of variants for groups other than white college-aged women.


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