Education and contact strategies to reduce stigmatising attitudes towards anorexia nervosa among university students

Joel Sebastian, Deborah Richards*, Ayse Bilgin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: As a strategy for the identification and treatment of individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN), we sought to reduce stigmatising attitudes concerning AN among members of their potential social network. Design: Three forms of stigma were focused upon: traditional, positive volitional and negative volitional. Stigmatising attitudes were captured at baseline, and after the first and second interventions. Setting: Male and female undergraduates at a university in Australia. Method: In all, 122 undergraduate students were randomly allocated into two groups where via videos one group received information about AN from a medical professional (education) followed by a person who has recovered from AN presenting her experiences (contact). The second group received a contact then education intervention. Results: Repeated measures ANOVA showed that participants’ volitional stigma was lesser than at baseline following the presentation of the first intervention for both education and contact. However, levels of traditional stigma did not significantly differ. Contact was more effective in reducing positive volitional stigma than education for men, but both were equally effective for women. Conclusion: Study findings provides support for the value of using video-based interventions to change attitudes to stigmatised conditions and demonstrated that education and contact intervention strategies were effective in reducing stigmatising attitudes towards AN in university students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)906-922
Number of pages17
JournalHealth Education Journal
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • anorexia nervosa
  • mental health education
  • stigma reduction
  • video interventions
  • volitional stigma

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