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Keywords:

  • eating disorders prevention;
  • teacher involvement;
  • clinical assessment

Abstract

Objective

This study evaluated the effectiveness at 1-year follow-up of a psychoeducational eating disorders preventive intervention implemented by specifically trained teachers.

Method

Participating teachers participated in a 5-week training program. One hundred forty-one female students attending nine classes at a vocational training school in Mestre (Venice) were assessed via a structured clinical interview (Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I disorders) and via the 40-item Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-40). Three classes were randomly selected to participate in a 6-week prevention program conducted by the trained teachers.

Results

Our data show that a disturbing number of the girls who were asymptomatic at baseline had developed a full or partial eating disorder 1 year later. This was the case for 2 (5%) participants and 10 (11%) subjects in the control group. Subjects in the prevention group differed significantly from the control group at the 1-year follow-up. This was the case for their EAT Bulimia subscale scores, which showed a significant improvement. The intervention group also revealed a lower development of food restraint and pathologic body attitudes.

Discussion

Given the sample size, our findings must be considered cautiously. However, they suggest that students can benefit from participation in a preventive intervention program conducted by teachers, and the benefits appear to be particularly pronounced for bulimic symptoms. © 2005 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.