Victoria University researchers have received $1.3 million to develop innovative digital resources for the prevention and early intervention of eating disorders among young adults.
Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt made the announcement as part of the $5 million Million Minds Mission Funding dedicated to the prevention and early intervention of eating disorders.
While some one million Australians live with an eating disorder, experts agree that early interventions can have a positive impact on recovery rates.
Dr Sian McLean, a research fellow in VU’s Institute of Health and Sport, will co-lead the development of an app to engage hard-to-reach young people in an early intervention program.
"This is the first time in the world that a young person experiencing an eating disorder will receive the support that they need to address the specific risk factor that is most problematic to them, in real-time, wherever they are,” she said.
Associate Professor Zali Yager and Professor Alex Parker will co-lead research to gather young people’s views about how they would like the app to look and feel, and ensure the findings are shared with participants, health professionals, and members of the community.
The app is expected to be trialed across Australia in 2020.
Young people hold insights
Professor Yager said that young people hold the key insights required to create engaging resources and programs that can be promoted through social media.
“We want to combine these insights with the evidence-base in order to develop some really innovative resources that directly meet their needs,” she said.
The VU team will join researchers on other related projects from Deakin, Melbourne, La Trobe, and Swinburne Universities, led by Associate Professor Matt Fuller-Tyszkiewicz at Deakin University.
The team will soon be seeking young people aged over 18 years, and health professionals to join a Research Advisory Group and contribute to the project.