Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology


Clinical Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, vi, 64 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Drew A Anderson

Committee Members

James F Boswell, Julia M Hormes, Katherine Schaumberg


Eating Disorders, Eating disorders in women, Body image disturbance, Body image in women, Ballerinas

Subject Categories



Professional dancers have increased vulnerability for eating disorders (EDs), with three times higher risk than non-dancers. Among ballet dancers, generalized risk for EDs associated with internalization of female beauty ideals (i.e., the thin-ideal) in western culture is compounded by idealization of a ballet-specific body ideal, a combination that confers unique vulnerability for eating pathology. Empirical support has been established for a healthy weight intervention (HWI) that promotes body acceptance and reducing eating pathology; the current study adapted a HWI specifically tailored to female athletes for implementation among professional ballet dancers. Participants from two elite ballet companies were randomized to a control and intervention condition. The intervention was delivered once per week over 3 weeks; all participants were assessed for eating pathology and related outcome variables pre- and post- intervention, and at 6-week follow-up. Additionally, dancers in the intervention condition were interviewed in focus groups at follow-up. Results indicated that dancers in the intervention condition demonstrated significant reductions in body dissatisfaction, dietary restraint, and eating pathology at post intervention assessment, and 6-week follow-up, as compared to control group counterparts. These results provide preliminary evidence that the current intervention may provide a feasible, acceptable, and effective means of eating disorder prevention in female professional ballet dancers. Future research should explore methods to increase participation and adoption of this program within dance companies, and ultimately, replicate this work in a larger sample.

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