NCAA highlights teaching case on eating disorders among college athletes

A new teaching case developed by the STRIPED program (Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders) at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health exploring issues around eating disorders among college athletes was chosen by the NCAA Sport Science Institute as part of the educational materials it made available for universities during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, February 22–28, 2015. STRIPED, which is also based at Boston Children’s Hospital, is a training program focused on eating disorders prevention.

Teaching cases are carefully crafted stories that introduce learners to timely real-world dilemmas through fictional but realistic case studies. Each case typically features a lead character facing a critical dilemma that must be problem-solved by learners through teamwork, led by an instructor.

The new STRIPED case centers on the fictional Colburn University, known for its award-winning Division I athletic teams. Eating disorders become an issue on campus after a comment by the athletic director about athletes with eating disorders draws negative media attention and a parent calls with concerns about her athlete daughter. Throughout the narrative, different perspectives on sports and eating disorders are revealed, from top-level administrators to the student-athletes themselves.  As the story concludes, the conversation about eating disorders has begun, but questions still remain on how to make Colburn University a healthy environment for its student-athletes.

STRIPED Director Bryn Austin, associate professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, discussed the case in a Q&A published on the NCAA Sports Science Institute website and in a special edition of the Institute’s email newsletter for athletic trainers, coaches, and others interested in sports and health.

“Everyone can help prevent eating disorders in college sport,” she said in the article. “Our teaching case helps learners see the big picture of influences on campus that they can target for change to support student-athlete health and well-being.”

Weighing the Evidence: One University Takes a Hard Look at Disordered Eating Among Athletes (STRIPED Program case)

Read other STRIPED Program cases.