Web-Based Training in Eating Disorder Prevention for Dental Professionals

Period of Performance: 07/01/2007 - 12/30/2008


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Deschutes Research, Inc.
Eugene, OR 97401
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Oral health is viewed as an early warning system of potential systemic and mental health issues, such as oral manifestations of eating disorders. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and partial syndrome eating disorders are among the most prevalent mental health issues affecting adolescent girls and young women. Twenty percent of people suffering from eating disorders will die prematurely from complications. Early diagnosis, referral, and treatment significantly increase the likelihood of recovery. However, only one in ten individuals receives treatment. Dental professionals play a fundamental role in the secondary prevention (early detection, patient-specific oral treatment, and referral) of eating disorders as they are often the first health professionals to observe overt health effects. Although dental professionals believe they have an ethical obligation to participate in eating disorder secondary prevention, lack of knowledge of oral and physical manifestations of eating disorders, and skill training in patient approach and communication with patient's suffering from these disorders as well as the development of practice protocol, have been identified as barriers to practice. The overall goal of this project is to develop an interactive web-based training program which will increase the capacity for the delivery of eating disorder secondary prevention among oral health providers. In Phase I, we will develop an interactive theory-based prototype of the web-delivered training program to teach dentists and dental hygienists patient approach and behavior change strategies for this sensitive issue, and conduct developmental and formative evaluations of the prototype. The formative evaluation will utilize a non- experimental two-panel pre/post design with 20 oral health professionals. In Phase II, we will revise the web- based training program based upon input from Phase I and expand it to cover the full range of conceptual and procedural objectives, conduct a randomized clinical trial with dental professionals comparing the web-based training program to current "usual care" curricula, develop final versions of the web-based training program with an accompanying DVD-ROM to be used by instructors in oral health care training programs , and create a website for the program, offering online registration for CE credit, , access to current research, and communication with other users about the program in preparation for marketing the program.