From Across the Desk: Some Benefits of Using the Internet for EDs, and a Challenging Patient

Some eating disorder programs have turned to technology to bring treatment to patients who would otherwise be out of reach. A few of the barriers that keep patients from seeking treatment include stigma, lack of transportation, cost, and geography.

Today researchers are looking for ways to reach those with ED symptoms, including using the Internet. By doing so, it may be possible to avoid a number of barriers that prevent people from seeking help thorough traditional means. Internet-based prevention programs for eating disorders are promising, according to a recent study reported by Dr. Kathina Ali and researchers.

Internet-based programs help clinicians like Dr. Ali and her colleagues breach such barriers. The COVID pandemic has only accelerated this effort. Stigma and shame, lack of motivation to change, lack of support or encouragement from others, and practical barriers of cost and lack of transportation are just a few of the underlying reasons for their hesitation to seek help. Dr. Ali and her colleagues (see “Using the Internet to Reach Persons at Risk of EDs” elsewhere in this issue) turned to the Internet to try to break down some of these barriers.

Another group has turned to the classroom in an effort to improve or reduce body image concerns among teens (see “The Effects of School-based Classes on Body Image”). Could community-based educational programs help improve risk factors? A British group reported positive effects of using a school-based program—improvement in girls and boys that lasts at least 6 months, a longer period than previously reported teacher-led body image intervention. They concluded that shifting interventions to community- and school-based programs such as theirs could help improve adolescents’ body image.

Finally, see a personal essay on addressing unexpected challenges in the midst of treating complex emotional issues. Dr. Roy Ehrlichman shares his experiences in an essay aptly named “Feeling Stuck,” where he describes how he dealt with complex issues that arose with one long-time patient.


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