Start Spreading the News-But How?

In following up from our Academy of Eating Disorders (AED) International Conference on Eating Disorders (ICED) 2019 Workshop, “Start Spreading the News-But How?” which I presented on with my colleagues Erin Parks, PhD (UCSD), Michael Cortese, BA (Gurze/Salucore LLC), and Lisa Sabey, BA (Parents-to-Parents), I wanted to extend the discussion in blog format.

Erin related that the Eating Disorders (ED) field is making great strides in improving prevention, screening, treatment, and access to care for EDs. However, despite this progress, the majority of schools don’t use our prevention techniques, the majority of pediatricians don’t use our screenings, the majority of clinicians don’t practice our treatments, and the majority of sufferers don’t have access to affordable, evidence-based care. As we seek to bridge the research-implementation gap, it becomes more essential than ever to mobilize the public. From mandatory automobile seat-belts, to routine screening for autism, consumer demand drives regulations, funding, and access. But how do we get the public to care about our research?

How do we shift the cultural narrative around EDs away from the myths, and towards the research?

Our workshop panel featured a blogger (myself), a media executive (Michael), and a documentary film-maker (Lisa), discussing how we can spread the word about EDs, and the evidence-based prevention, screening, and treatments that are available through our mediums. Our learning objectives were to: 1) Describe the concept of socializing research; 2) Deliver a socially salient elevator pitch; and 3) Propose communication strategies for the participants’ areas of research/practice, utilizing the “Nine Truths About EDs,” which was produced in 2016 by major ED organizations (see link below). I noted that blogging is a medium that allows you to convey your message in a succinct format, and in a timely manner. The intent is to grab your attention, focus on the most important information, and if it is applicable, provide links to references and further resources. When I blog from a professional perspective, I translate research findings into layman’s terms, defining the terminology used in the studies, and explaining it in a way that is understandable. What has worked best for my blogs has involved a combination of content, audience, pictures, and the timing of my posts.

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The most important points are making sure that you connect with your audience, your content is relevant to them, and you communicate a succinct take-home message that will hopefully move them to learn more, as well as personally reflect upon it.

Michael presented from his perspective as the owner/executive of a media company. He related that a very popular feature is their weekly podcasts, which have a 20-25 minute discussion format related to specific ED topics. He is able to count the number of downloads for each podcast, and thus determine which ones are the most popular. Michael also related that they receive a ton of feedback, both good and bad, and it is important to respond and adapt.

Lisa spoke about the importance of capturing the experience of parents of children with mental health disorders (including EDs) via documentary format. She reaffirmed that it is very important to connect with the parents, to hear their (sometimes previously untold) stories, and to create a message that is salient and resonates with others.

The ultimate goal is to increase awareness of these issues, the different perspectives involved, and motivate people to action.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: HEATHER HOWER

Heather Hower, MSW, LICSW, QCSW, ACSW has served on the Board of the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) since 2013, including as the Conference Committee Co-Chair, Research Advisory Council (RAC) Feeding Hope Fund (FHF) grant reviewer, and Development Committee contributor to NEDA events, programs, and positions. She collaborates with her NEDA colleagues on eating disorder research studies, papers, and presentations, including at NEDA conferences, the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) International Conference on Eating Disorders (ICED) conferences, and the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (IADEP) conferences (she is also a member).

She serves as an eating disorder grant reviewer for the Department of Defense (DOD), a conference proposal reviewer for IADEP, a manuscript reviewer for the International Journal of Eating Disorders (IJED), an advocate for National Advocacy Days for the Eating Disorder Coalition (EDC), and a contributor to professional and program development (University of California at San Diego [UCSD] Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research). Through her Research Project Director position at Brown University Warren Alpert Medical School, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior (2007 to present), she has also been collaborating with and supporting her local Rhode Island Hospital/Hasbro Children’s Hospital Eating Disorders Partial Hospital, Outpatient, and Home-Based clinical programs since 2013.  Through her Faculty-Research Associate appointment at Brown University School of Public Health, Department of Health Services, Policy, and Practice, Hassenfeld Child Innovation Institute (2016 to present), she has also been collaborating with her Healthy Weight and Nutrition colleagues to submit grant proposals.

Resources:

National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Nine Truths About Eating Disorders:

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/nine-truths-about-eating-disorders

 Erin Parks-UCSD ED Clinic:

http://eatingdisorders.ucsd.edu/

Heather Hower-ED Blogs:

–  NEDA: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog

–  Project HEAL: http://theprojectheal.org/blog/

–  Medium: https://medium.com/libertased

–  Jenni Schaefer: https://jennischaefer.com/blog/eating-and-body-image/recovered-eating-disorders-professionals-stigma/

 Michael Cortese-Gurze/Salucore Eating Disorders Resource Guide:

https://www.edcatalogue.com/

 Lisa Sabey-Documentary for Parents of Children with Anorexia:

 http://www.parents-to-parents.org/