Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Isaac Prilleltensky

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


A number of researchers have expressed concern regarding the growing prevalence of body dissatisfaction, especially among North American women. Such body dissatisfaction is often linked to dieting, weight concerns, excessive exercise, poor nutrition, and eating disorders. In order to expand our awareness and understanding of university students’ needs with regards to issues concerning body image, a needs assessment was conducted in two universities located in southwestem Ontario. In focus groups and individual interviews, students were asked directly about the issues they find most troublesome, their experiences in the recovery process, and their needs for supportive and preventive interventions. In order to facilitate the utilization of the results of the needs assessment, participants were invited to join a student advisory committee (H.O.P.E.) which reviewed the suggestions, planned, and implemented interventions. Apart from encouraging utilization of the results, H.O.P.E. also provides a supportive network for members and an empowering opportunity for them to choose their own courses of action, and to make changes in their community. The thesis process was guided by a combination of community psychology and feminist research values such as a recognition of the relationship between individuals and their social context; validation of personal experience; appreciation for a two way researcher-participant relationship; and incorporation of action research, social change, and empowerment within the research process. This thesis provides a model of an action-research project in which the momentum created during a needs assessment generated action. Specific recommendations are discussed for advertising and implementing supportive and preventive interventions, developing action research projects, and for future research.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season