Secondary prevention interventions aim to lower the severity and duration of an illness through early intervention, including early detection and early treatment. These interventions can occur at any stage of life, from childhood to older age. The distinguishing feature is that intervention occurs early in the pathway to an eating disorder.
At this stage of an eating disorder, secondary interventions emphasise that eating disorders are highly treatable, very common and just a step further on the continuum of disordered eating.
These attempts to normalise the person’s behaviours are intended to encourage a person in the early stage of an eating disorder to seek help.
NB. There is considerable overlap between indicated prevention and secondary prevention. The difference relates to the degree of demonstrable risk.
Early detection and treatment
Research shows that identifying and treating an eating disorder as early as possible increases the chance of recovery. Seeking help at the first warning sign is much more effective than waiting until the illness is in full swing.
Tertiary prevention aims to reduce the impact of an eating disorder on a person’s life through approaches such as rehabilitation and relapse prevention. It also includes actions to ensure people have access to supports within the community, such as having employment and social interactions.