We conducted a randomized, controlled preliminary trial of a dissonance-based eating disorder prevention program in a community sample of women with clinical and subclinical symptoms.
Verbal, written, and behavioral exercises designed to dissuade objectification and maladaptive social comparison were added to the traditional content of the Body Project prevention program. Program efficacy was compared to an assessment-only control condition. Body dissatisfaction, self-esteem, selfobjectification, thin-ideal internalization, maladaptive social comparison, trait anxiety, eating disorder symptoms, and biomarkers of cardiac risk were evaluated in 52 participants. With regard to cardiac indices, we assessed mean R-wave amplitude, QT interval length, vagal tone (high-frequency spectral power of heart rate variability), and sympathetic tone (low/high-frequency spectral power ratio) via electocardiography (ECG) at each assessment period. All measures were examined in dissonance and assessment-only control conditions at baseline, postintervention, and 2-month follow-up.
We predicted a statistically significant 2 (condition: control, dissonance) x 3 (time: baseline, postintervention, 2-month follow-up) interaction in the mixed-factorial MANOVA results for participants (N=47) in regard to eating disorder symptoms. Results confirmed this hypothesis. Eating disorder risk factors and symptoms decreased significantly among participants in the dissonance condition at postintervention and 2-month follow-up compared to baseline; symptom improvement was greater among dissonance compared to control participants. We also predicted a statistically significant 2 (condition: control, dissonance) x 3 (time: baseline, postintervention, 2-month follow-up) interaction in the mixedfactorial MANOVA results in regard to participants’ cardiac risk indices. Results also confirmed this hypothesis. Cardiac risk indices decreased significantly among participants in the dissonance condition at postintervention and 2-month follow-up compared to baseline.
Results provide support for the efficacy of a dissonance-based program in the reduction of eating disorder symptoms and cardiac risk indices among women with subclinical and clinical eating disorder symptoms. Findings extend the efficaciousness of the dissonance-based approach to treatment and tertiary prevention and establish its effectiveness in reducing cardiac risks.
Meghan Powers, ’16
Ruby Linkhart, ’16
Shuhan Reyes, ’16
Sol Wooten, ’17
Wyatt Whitegoat, ’16
Window Rock, AZ
Brianna Bryant, ’17
Sponsor: Melinda Green