Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Renee Mabey


Eating Disorders; Fitness Centers


Eating disorders are more prevalent in the college-age group when compared to the lifetime prevalence. Because of this increased prevalence, college recreation/wellness center staff should be aware of their clients in terms of the increased risk for eating disorders. College wellness/recreation centers, while serving the campus community, also serve the individuals within this community diagnosed with or at-risk for an eating disorder. Through survey research, we show who is employed at wellness/recreation centers, what type of training they receive regarding eating disorder, how this training is provided along with its content, and what method of public awareness on eating disorders is utilized within the facility.

Directors of 686 wellness/recreation centers listed in the 2005 NIRSA Recreational Sports Directory were contacted via internet survey. The response rate was 25.0%. The data evaluation (using SPSS) included descriptive statistics to summarize the overall number and percentage of responses.

Results indicated that less than half (44%) of the staff at recreation/wellness centers receive training on eating disorders. For individuals who received training, the focus was in the following categories: identification of red flags (73%), general education on eating disorders (65%), and appropriate referral sources (60%). Minimal training appears to be provided on how to provide appropriate intervention (29%). In an attempt to minimize the pressure of environmental interactions that may exacerbate an eating disorder, a majority of facilities have a client dress code, promote a healthy body image, and promote eating disorder awareness to the campus community.

As noted, there is an increased prevalence of eating disorders in college-age individuals. There is a low amount of staff training in wellness/recreation centers which illustrates the need for improvement. We recommend an overall increase in eating disorder training, especially with regard to appropriate interventions that should take place within these facilities.