Pro-eating disorder websites are discussed frequently in the media, yet little is known about the reasons men and women use these sites, or the effects that this usage may have on their physical or mental health. Do these websites truly cause people to develop eating disorders? Or do they simply provide support for people who already struggle with disordered eating? Does the answer lie somewhere in between?
We are a group of researchers and specialists in eating disorders at Stanford University, working to learn more about the impact of disordered eating on health, and how the internet may mediate these effects. We have been researching the use of these websites in our patients since 2004, and wish to hear directly from the online community. We have put together an anonymous survey to assess website usage, reasons for use, health history, disordered eating behaviors and quality of life. Through this questionnaire, we hope to understand more about the health and motivations of pro-eating disorder website users in an unbiased way.
As you know, your website is highly frequented. We are hoping that you would be willing to post a link to our survey from your website. Your cooperation is critical if we are to better understand the reasons for using websites like yours. All participants must be over 18 years of age and read a consent form before participating in the survey. This study was approved by the Stanford University Panel on Medical Research in Human Subjects.
ALL INFORMATION WILL REMAIN ANONYMOUS.
WE ARE NOT TRYING TO SHUT DOWN YOUR WEBSITE.
YOUR WEBSITE WILL NOT BE DISCLOSED TO THE PUBLIC.
If you are willing to participate, please post the following introductory sentence and link to your website:
"Stanford researchers are interested in learning more about you, your health, and why you use this website. If you are 18 years old or older, please take 30-40 minutes to fill out an anonymous, online questionnaire to help shed light on why people join pro-eating disorder communities. Your anonymity will be ensured and your responses will help us learn more about these sites, in an unbiased way, from users themselves. Just go to: http://adolescent.stanford.edu/eatingdisorders/ then click on "subject 18 years or older" and follow the directions."
Thank you for your time- we greatly appreciate your consideration and cooperation. We are happy to share the results of our survey with you when they are published. Feel free to contact us with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rebecka Peebles M.D.
Iris Litt, M.D.
Jenny Wilson, B.A.
Division of Adolescent Medicine
Stanford University School of Medicine