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Keywords:

  • eating disorders;
  • binge eating;
  • obesity;
  • digital coaching;
  • self-help treatment

Abstract

Objective:

While digital coaching self-help interventions to facilitate behavioral change are offered increasingly on the Internet, few studies have examined who uses them. This study examined demographic and clinical characteristics of adults who accessed a self-help program for binge eaters made available to them via their employers or health plans.

Method:

Cross-sectional data from 4,051 men and women who registered for the online program during a 13-month period were used. Gender differences and differences across three diagnostic groupings based on self-reported symptoms were tested using t-tests and ANOVAs (dimensional variables) or Chi-Square analyses (categorical variables).

Results:

More women (3,053) than men (998) accessed the program. A majority of participants reported binge eating below frequency levels required for a clinical diagnosis, yet reported high levels of motivation to overcome their eating binges. Few had received prior treatment for an eating disorder. Although women reported greater symptomatology on most variables, these differences typically reflected small effects. Comparisons of diagnostic subgroups found few differences between those with probable diagnoses of bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder.

Discussion:

Digital coaching programs may be a viable treatment option, particularly for individuals with infrequent binge eating who otherwise might not seek or receive treatment. © 2010 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2010