Addressing an Urgent Need: Developing and Disseminating a Brief Eating Disorders Intervention for Primary Care (FAST-ED)

2024 Award: $99,001

Eating disorders effect approximately 10% of the population, but many individuals with eating disorders experience many barriers to accessing treatment, including unacceptably long waitlists at specialty care settings. The average delay between onset of the eating disorder and accessing treatment is over 5 years. The goal of this study is to develop and test a treatment for adolescents with eating disorders that is designed to be used in primary care settings and delivered by generalist mental health providers. By increasing access to treatment at the point of detection, we will be able to transform care delivery and improve youth mental health across NC.

Need/Problem: Eating disorders effect approximately 10% of the population and have a high mortality rate, but current treatments are designed to be delivered in specialty care clinics that have long waitlists and are hard to access. There is a critical need for a first-line treatment that can be provided in primary care settings, which decreases time between detection and treatment and immediately improves treatment access, especially to underserved populations.

Grant Summary: We will develop and test a treatment manual based on the First Approach Skills Training (FAST) model that will be used by generalist mental health providers in pediatric primary care settings to work with adolescents with their eating disorders. Specifically, we will conduct an open trial of the FAST-ED intervention in both English and Spanish and get qualitative and quantitative data regarding acceptability and efficacy.

Goals and Projected Outcomes: The overarching goal of this research is to reduce eating disorder symptoms in adolescents by developing and delivering an intervention within primary care settings and thus reducing barriers to receiving care. To achieve this overarching goal, the first aim of this study is to produce finalized treatment materials for an intervention, called First Approach Skills Training for Eating Disorders (FAST-ED), in both English and Spanish which is designed to be delivered in pediatric primary care settings. The second goal is to test this intervention in an open trial in two pediatric primary care settings and collect pilot data to support a larger federal grant submission. Our final goals are to develop free online training materials for mental health providers and to train additional providers at UNC Health in this intervention and work towards sustainability of the program.

Emily Pisetsky, PhD

Grant Details: First, we will finalize the development of FAST-ED and receive feedback from pediatric and generalist mental health providers. We will then conduct an open trial of 5 English-speaking and 5 Spanish-speaking adolescents and their families and conduct exit interviews with the families. These semi-structured interviews will cover the patients’ and caregivers’ experience completing the FAST-ED program, feedback on materials, and the appropriateness of the covered topics. Additional topics for the Latinx participants will include cultural appropriateness of the materials. This feedback will be incorporated into the second version of the materials. We will then enroll approximately 40 more families (20 English-speaking, 20 Spanish-speaking) using the updated treatment manual. We will be collecting data regarding changes in eating disorder and other mental health symptoms as well as acceptability of the program.