Implementation and Evaluation of Two Educational Strategies to Improve Screening for Eating Disorders in Pediatric Primary Care

J Adolesc Health. 2017 May;60(5):606-611. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.12.002. Epub 2017 Jan 18.


Purpose: Routine screening for disordered eating or body image concerns is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. We evaluated the ability of two educational interventions to increase screening for eating disorders in pediatric primary care practice, predicting that the "active-learning" group would have an increase in documented screening after intervention.

Methods: We studied 303 practitioners in a large independent practice association located in the northeastern United States. We used a quasi-experimental design to test the effect of printed educational materials ("print-learning" group, n = 280 participants) compared with in-person shared learning followed by on-line spaced education ("active-learning" group, n = 23 participants) on documented screening of adolescents for eating disorder symptoms during preventive care visits. A subset of 88 participants completed additional surveys regarding knowledge of eating disorders, comfort screening for, diagnosing, and treating eating disorders, and satisfaction with their training regarding eating disorders.

Results: During the preintervention period, 4.5% of patients seen by practitioners in both the print-learning and active-learning groups had chart documentation of screening for eating disorder symptoms or body image concerns. This increased to 22% in the active-learning group and 5.7% in the print-learning group in the postintervention period, a statistically significant result. Compared with print-learning participants, active-learning group participants had greater eating disorder knowledge scores, increases in comfort diagnosing eating disorders, and satisfaction with their training in this area.

Conclusions: In-person shared learning followed by on-line spaced education is more effective than print educational materials for increasing provider documentation of screening for eating disorders in primary care.

Keywords: Adolescent; Eating disorder; Screening.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / prevention & control
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / therapy
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Pediatrics / education*
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Problem-Based Learning / standards
  • Quality Improvement
  • Self Report
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • United States
  • Young Adult