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This pilot study investigated the feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of a peer-led dissonance-based eating disorders (ED) prevention/risk factor reduction program with high school girls.


Ninth grade girls (n  = 50) received the peer-led program within the school curriculum. A quasi-experimental design was used to assess changes in ED risk factors preintervention and postintervention compared with waitlist control. Participants were followed through 3-month follow-up.


Peer-leader adherence to an intervention manual tailored for this age group was high. The intervention was rated as highly acceptable, with a large proportion of participants reporting that they enjoyed the program and learned and applied new information. Intervention participants exhibited significantly greater pre-post reductions in a majority of risk-factor outcomes compared to waitlist controls. When groups were combined to assess program effects over time there were significant pre-post reductions in a majority of outcomes that were sustained through 3-month follow-up.


This pilot study provides tentative support for the effectiveness of using peer leaders to implement an empirically supported ED risk factor reduction program in a high school setting. Additional research is needed to replicate results in larger, better-controlled trials with longer follow-up.

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International Journal of Eating Disorders

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Psychology Commons