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ProYouth – Internet-based prevention and early intervention in eating disorders

Contact: Dr. Christina Gallinat (christina.gallinat(at)

Project period: since 2011

Project description

A large number of mental problems and illnesses occur for the first time in adolescence and young adulthood and represent an enormous burden for affected individuals, but also for their social environment. In this age group, education, health promotion and prevention regarding mental illnesses is important to ensure that problems are recognized as early as possible and that affected individuals receive professional counseling and treatment. Internet-based prevention programs are of great potential here, as they offer low-threshold access independent of time and place. With this goal in mind, the Center for Psychotherapy Research developed the Internet-based program ProYouth for prevention and early intervention in eating disorders. The program is an advanced development of previously tested previous versions (Es[S]PRIT and YoungES[S]PRIT) and has been freely available on the Internet since 2012 via the Internet address

ProYouth offers the following support options for paticipants:

  1. Information materials: The online platform contains comprehensive information materials on mental health, symptoms and treatment of eating disorders, contact addresses, etc.
  2. Self-testing and monitoring: The online self-test allows participants to determine their own risk for an eating disorder. In addition, there is the possibility to regularly document one's own eating disorder-relevant behaviors and attitudes through online monitoring (3-minute questionnaire) and to receive feedback/tips on the development of these areas.
  3. Peer support: The program allows personal exchange with other participants, discussion of topics related to nutrition, dieting, slimming ideals, eating disorders, etc. (in the online forum).
  4. Chat counseling: Participants can receive anonymous advice from psychologists in online chats (e.g. on the assessment of their own symptoms, counseling and therapy services near their home, etc.).

Within the framework of a project funded by the EU in the Health Programme ("Promotion of young people's mental health through technology-enhanced personalization of care"; Ref: PROYOUTH 20101209) the program ProYouth was implemented in cooperation with 6 partner institutions:

  • Department of Psychiatry, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
  • Center for Health Policy and Public Health, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  • Studi Cognitivi S.R.L., Milan, Italien
  • Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
  • Institute of Behavioral Sciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
  • Center for Eating Disorders Ursula, Leiden, Netherlands

In addition, institutions from France (Université de Toulouse) and Turkey (İstanbul Üniversitesi) have joined the ProYouth initiative, so that the program is now available in 9 languages. Since its launch, over 22300 people have already used the online screening and 8980 have registered to participate (as of October 2014).


Bauer, S., Bilic, S., Özer, F. & Moessner, M. (2019). Dissemination of an Internet-based Program for the Prevention and Early Intervention in Eating Disorders: Relationship between Access Paths, User Characteristics, and Program Utilization. Zeitschrift für Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie und Psychotherapie. DOI:

Kindermann, S., Moessner, M., Ozer, F. & Bauer, S. (2017). Associations between eating disorder related symptoms and participants' utilization of an individualized Internet-based prevention and early intervention program. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 50(10), 1215-1221.

Moessner, M., Minarik, C., Ozer, F. & Bauer, S. (2016). Effectiveness and Cost-effectiveness of School-based Dissemination Strategies of an Internet-based Program for the Prevention and Early Intervention in Eating Disorders: A Randomized Trial. Prevention Science, 17(3), 306-313.

Moessner, M., Minarik, C., Ozer, F. & Bauer, S. (2016). Can an Internet-based Program for the Prevention and Early Intervention in Eating Disorders facilitate Access to Conventional Professional Healthcare? Journal of Mental Health, 25(5), 441-447.

Bauer, S., Papezova, H., Chereches, R., Caselli, G., McLoughlin, O., Szumska, I., van Furth, E., Ozer, F. & Moessner, M. (2013). Advances in the prevention and early intervention of eating disorders: The potential of Internet-delivered approaches. Mental Health and Prevention, 1(1), 26-32.

Minarik, C., Moessner, M., Özer, F. & Bauer, S. (2013). Implementierung und Dissemination eines internetbasierten Programms zur Prävention und frühen Intervention bei Essstörungen. Psychiatrische Praxis, 40, 332-338.

Moessner, M., Özer, F., Minarik, C. & Bauer, S. (2013). ProYouth – ein Online-Programm zur Prävention und frühen Intervention bei Essstörungen. Psychotherapie im Dialog, 14(04), 74-76.