Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Research has found that athletes, particularly those involved in "aesthetically-oriented" sports, are at increased risk for engaging in unhealthy weight reduction practices and developing clinical eating disorders. Prevention studies of eating disorders have had some success, but there are very few published studies that address prevention in athletes. This study was designed as an eating disorders prevention program that targeted coaches as change agents. Cheerleading coaches at national or regional conferences attended an intervention workshop or a control workshop. Coaches who attended the intervention workshop received information regarding nutrition, eating disorders, and ways to manage athletes with eating disorders. They had the opportunity to participate in seven intervention strategies (e.g., reading materials, Internet support, parent handouts) after attending the workshop. Seven months following the workshop, the coaches and cheerleaders completed an assessment battery designed to test the effectiveness of the intervention. The results indicated that the intervention was successful in increasing knowledge about eating disorders among coaches and producing behavior changes in coaches. However, the changes observed in the coaches did not lead to improvements in body image among cheerleaders or reduce the cheerleaders’ perceptions of weight pressures associated with their sport. These findings imply that interventions can be implemented by important adult figures (e.g., coaches, teachers) but the overall effectiveness of these interventions must be enhanced in order to have a significant impact on the athletes themselves.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Donald A. Williamson



Included in

Psychology Commons