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Recruiting Participants

We have focused on recruiting female students with body image concerns because they are at elevated risk for eating pathology and effects for prevention programs tend to be larger for this population. However, several trials have found that the Body Project program is also efficacious for young women without body image concerns (Becker et al., 2005; Becker,

Bull, Schaumberg, Cauble, & Franco, 2008). We have found that recruiting approximately eight participants with body image concerns per group works well, because smaller groups may not evoke sufficient public accountability, particularly if one or two participants drop out, and larger groups do not allow enough time for all attendees to participate in all of the session exercises.

Body Project recruitment tends to be more successful when potential participants know that the program is being offered in their schools and the program is presented as a fun and interesting opportunity rather than just another class with homework. Removing potential attendance barriers is important. For example, conducting the sessions at school, rather than requiring participants to travel to another location, facilitates participation. Moreover, the best times to hold sessions for students appear to be immediately after school (generally, within 30 minutes of school dismissal) or at times that do not conflict with class schedules (during study hall for high school students or in the evenings for college students) or compete with popular extracurricular activities (e.g., sorority meetings, band practice). Holding sessions no more than once per week can also help increase attendance and avoid potential scheduling conflicts.

We have used a range of recruitment methods, including mass mailings, mass e-mail messages, posters, leaflets, announcements on the school public address system, class announcements, ads in the school paper, and announcements on school Web sites (e.g., Blackboard). We typically invite all female students at a particular school or college, usually via mass mailings or e-mail messages, to sign up for these body acceptance classes. This recruitment approach is by far the most effective. We often find it useful to send a second mailing or e-mailing 2 weeks after the first. The second most effective recruitment strategy is to hang recruitment posters in the student union, the student health center, the student recreation center, the counseling center, sororities, dorms, large lecture halls, and other places with a high volume of student traffic. Using flyers with rip-off tabs containing the relevant contact telephone number or e-mail address on the inside of stalls in womens bathrooms or other locations where individuals can access the information with some privacy is also useful, because body image concerns are often a sensitive topic among adolescents. Recruitment materials should not create unrealistic expectations for potential participants and should include accurate descriptions of the facilitator's qualifications and a clear description of the intervention and its purpose. Including images of minority women on the recruitment posters helps ensure that the students are more ethnically diverse. We have also found it helpful to ask teachers or professors to announce the program in classes and to encourage the school counselors or nurses to mention the body acceptance classes to individuals they feel may be appropriate for the intervention. These recruitment procedures can be effective, resulting in as many as 15% of all female students at some schools and colleges completing this intervention. Former Body Project participants have also been a significant source of referrals.

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