Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Animal and Nutritional Sciences

Committee Chair

Melissa Olfert

Committee Co-Chair

Pamela Murray

Committee Member

Virginia Quick


Technology is changing rapidly in this global world. A radically different delivery of nutrition information and counseling is technologically feasible in fewer than five years. With about half of girls and a quarter of boys being dissatisfied with their bodies during adolescence into young adulthood, some negative consequences including development of disordered eating, eating disorders (ED) and poor psychological well-being may increase. New methods of delivery, from social media to virtual worlds will allow health care providers (HCP) to reach and interact with patients in different cities or even countries. Simple "tweets" to online videos may have a place in the near future of treatment and prevention of eating disorders. PURPOSE: The purpose of this formative, mixed method, two-phase research study was to examine the usage, usefulness, effectiveness and convenience of technologies utilized by health care providers (HCP) in eating disorder (ED) treatment programs. METHODS: In phase one, HCP currently working with ED patients were intensively recruited to complete an online survey on technology usage, usefulness, effectiveness, and convenience in ED treatment programs; followed by a second phase where focus groups were conducted on discussion of technology use, hindrance or asset when working with patients, how demographics effect the use of technology, whether technology aided in ED outcomes, and privacy concerns. RESULTS: Participants (N=54) completing the survey represented various disciplines (e.g., 40% Registered Dietitians (RD), 35% school counselors, 10% physicians), and mostly worked in private practice (38%) or a college setting (33%). Technology use reported were email (62%), text messaging (36%), smartphone apps (34%), CD-ROM /DVD (18%), internet-based programs (16%), and virtual reality (7%). Additionally, both email and text messaging were reported as the most convenient technologies used in ED treatment programs. Focus groups (n=9) discussion points were divided into similar practice environments (private practice or university). CONCLUSION: Findings suggest that HCP use a smorgasbord of technologies in ED treatment programs and find them useful, effective, and convenient. Further there is interest on the part of the HCP to utilize technologies; however a lack of knowledge about available technologies limits use. General attitude about technology `it can be a useful tool for integrating into ED treatment plans when it is tailored directly to the client's needs'. LIMITATIONS: Smaller sample then anticipated in both parts of the formative research with a small representation of the different health care practitioners including dietitians.