Informing mHealth and Web-Based Eating Disorder Interventions: Combining Lived Experience Perspectives With Design Thinking Approaches

Jarman, Hannah K., McLean, Siân A., Rodgers, Rachel, Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, Matthew, Paxton, Susan, O'Gorman, Beth, Harris, Emily, Shatte, Adrian, Bishop, Katie, Baumann, Tahlia, Mahoney, Danielle, Daugelat, Melissa Claire, and Yager, Zali (2022) Informing mHealth and Web-Based Eating Disorder Interventions: Combining Lived Experience Perspectives With Design Thinking Approaches. JMIR Formative Research, 6 (10). e38387.

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Background: App-based interventions designed to prevent and treat eating disorders have considerable potential to overcome known barriers to treatment seeking. Existing apps have shown efficacy in terms of symptom reduction; however, uptake and retention issues are common. To ensure that apps meet the needs and preferences of those for whom they were designed, it is critical to understand the lived experience of potential users and involve them in the process of design, development, and delivery. However, few app-based interventions are pretested on and co-designed with end users before randomized controlled trials.

Objective: To address the issue, this study used a highly novel design thinking approach to provide the context and a lived experience perspective of the end user, thus allowing for a deeper level of understanding.

Methods: In total, 7 young women (mean age 25.83, SD 5.34, range 21-33 years) who self-identified as having a history of body image issues or eating disorders were recruited. Participants were interviewed about their lived experience of body image and eating disorders and reported their needs and preferences for app-based eating disorder interventions. Traditional (thematic analysis) and novel (empathy mapping; visually depicting and empathizing with the user’s personal experience) analyses were performed, providing a lived experience perspective of eating disorders and identifying the needs and preferences of this population in relation to app-based interventions for eating disorders. Key challenges and opportunities for app-based eating disorder interventions were also identified.

Results: Findings highlighted the importance of understanding and identifying problematic eating disorder symptoms for the user, helpful practices for recovery that identify personal values and goals, the role of social support in facilitating hope, and aspects of usability to promote continued engagement and recovery.

Conclusions: Practical guidance and recommendations are described for those developing app-based eating disorder interventions. These findings have the potential to inform practices to enhance participant uptake and retention in the context of app-based interventions for this population.

Item ID: 77623
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2561-326X
Keywords: app-based intervention, co-design, design thinking, eating disorders, interviews, lived experience, mHealth, mobile health, young women
Copyright Information: ©Hannah K Jarman, Siân A McLean, Rachel Rodgers, Matthew Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, Susan Paxton, Beth O'Gorman, Emily Harris, Adrian Shatte, Katie Bishop, Tahlia Baumann, Danielle Mahoney, Melissa-Claire Daugelat, Zali Yager. Originally published in JMIR Formative Research (, 31.10.2022. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Formative Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2023 05:43
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420302 Digital health @ 100%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2001 Clinical health > 200105 Treatment of human diseases and conditions @ 100%
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