Background Eating Disorders (EDs) are serious psychiatric illnesses marked by psychiatric comorbidity, medical complications, and functional impairment. Research indicates that female athletes are often at greater risk for developing ED pathology versus non-athlete females. The Female Athlete Body (FAB) study is a three-site, randomized controlled trial (RCT) designed to assess the efficacy of a behavioral ED prevention program for female collegiate athletes when implemented by community providers. This paper describes the design, intervention, and participant baseline characteristics. Future papers will discuss outcomes. Methods Female collegiate athletes (N = 481) aged 17–21 were randomized by site, team, and sport type to either FAB or a waitlist control group. FAB consisted of three sessions (1.3 h each) of a behavioral ED prevention program. Assessments were conducted at baseline (pre-intervention), post-intervention (3 weeks), and six-, 12-, and 18-month follow-ups. Results This study achieved 96% (N = 481) of target recruitment (N = 500). Few group differences emerged at baseline. Total sample analyses revealed moderately low baseline instances of ED symptoms and clinical cases. Conclusions Health risks associated with EDs necessitate interventions for female athletes. The FAB study is the largest existing RCT for female athletes aimed at both reduction of ED risk factors and ED prevention. The methods presented and population recruited for this study represent an ideal intervention for assessing the effects of FAB on both the aforementioned outcomes. We anticipate that findings of this study (reported in future papers) will make a significant contribution to the ED risk factor reduction and prevention literature.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)