The ‘Diet or Disorder?’ evidence-based App is co-created by an NHS-Swansea University team together with collaborators who are sufferers, carers and a mental health charity, with advice from public health, education and primary healthcare professionals to reflect real needs. This free App has been funded by the Swansea University Clinical Innovation Partnership (SHIPP), with money from the Welsh Government.
Apps currently available are aimed at helping people with established eating disorders to diary and chart diets, activity and moods. What is lacking are preventative and early intervention Apps for eating disorders aimed at members of the public.
This is an important gap - research suggests that both the public and primary health care professionals vary widely in understanding of and responses to eating disorders, with significant, costly delays in both seeking and receiving help; whereas early detection and intervention leads to better chances of recovery. In fact, the draft NICE guidance for Eating Disorders which will be published soon emphasises the importance of prompt and early diagnosis and referral for eating disorders.
The ‘Diet or Disorder?’ App is designed for and tested by both experts by experience and members of the public who are not familiar with eating disorders, as well as primary care health professionals. The App is made in Wales using UK standards but can be used in other countries. Its information is based on the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), Welsh Eating Disorder Framework, and adult and paediatric MARSIPAN (Management of Really Sick Patients with Anorexia Nervosa) guidelines. This is consistent with principles of the Mental Health (Wales) Measure 2010, Together For Children and Young People (Early Intervention and Enhanced Support), Making Sense report (2016) and Prudent Healthcare, that patients with mental disorders should be detected at earlier stages and receive appropriate and timely help in primary care.
The App is aimed at young people and their parents as well as adults and provides tools to support and empower sufferers and carers in a portable format. It has: a simple screening tool to help people to identify whether they or someone they care about may have an eating disorder; psychoeducation about eating disorders and their symptoms;
simple self-help strategies and links to resources; hints and tips for how to successfully seek help in primary care; and a single page format for presenting concerns to primary care professionals.