Exploring the early-phase implementation of digital health solutions to improve access and treatment outcomes of eating disorders within in rural and regional health services


  • Ashlea Hambleton InsideOut Institute, University of Sydney
  • Sarah Maguire InsideOut Institute, University of Sydney
  • Jane Miskovic-Wheatley InsideOut Institute, University of Sydney
  • Daniel Le Grange University of California, San Francisco


Background: Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is a complex eating disorder with severe implications, carrying the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric illnesses.  Fortunately, there are efficacious treatments available, with Family-Based Treatment (FBT) recommended as the outpatient intervention of choice for young people with AN. Treatment to protocol has relied on face-to-face delivery within specialist settings. FBT is subject to geographic, temporal, and human factors, rendering it susceptible to inequities and disruption, resulting in poorer service provision.  Telehealth offers a potential solution to this problem. However, the barriers, facilitators, acceptability and effectiveness of the digital translation of evidence-based treatments from the ‘ivory tower’ of specialist clinics to ‘real world’ community health services remains unknown.  

Aims: The aim of the presentation is to discuss the barriers and facilitators of implementing telehealth-delivered FBT into the rural and regional mental health system.  

Methods: Implementation data (qualitative and quantitative) will be analysed to understand the barriers and facilitators of the early-implementation phase. 

Results: This presentation will discuss the barriers and facilitators during the early implementation of telehealth-delivered FBT within rural health services.  


Conclusions: If digitally delivered treatments are clinically effective, economically feasible, and embedded within health servicepathways, then access and treatment inequalities for geographically dispersed individuals may well be minimized. Further, the health system will be better positioned in the face of future service disruptions, such as those experienced in 2020-21.