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Web aids binge eating disorder care

Wednesday August 9th, 2017

Internet-based support can effectively help reduce the severity of binge eating disorder, German researchers have reported.

Dr Anja Hilbert, of the University of Leipzig, Germany, and colleagues compared an internet-based, guided self-help intervention with face-to-face cognitive behavioural therapy. They recruited 178 overweight or obese patients with binge eating disorder, and assigned them to one of the two approaches at random.

Participants received either 20 individual face-to-face sessions of 50 minutes each focused on nutrition, body image and stress, or 11 internet modules on similar topics plus weekly email contact. Treatment continued for four months, and the participants were followed up at six months and again at 18 months.

This showed that cognitive behavioural therapy was better than internet-based self-help at reducing binge eating days when tested at the end of treatment (two days versus four days, down from 14 days) and after six months (three days versus five days). But further follow-up in a sub-group showed that the difference had disappeared at 18 months.

In JAMA Psychiatry recently, the team report: "Internet-based guided self-help remains a viable, slower-acting, low-threshold treatment alternative compared with cognitive behavioural therapy for adults with binge eating disorder."

They explain that cognitive behavioural therapy "represents the criterion standard for treatment of binge eating disorder, most individuals do not have access to this specialised treatment".

Dr Hilbert says that the results showing cognitive-behavioural therapy worked faster than self-help should be considered during treatment decisions since patients usually need their problems resolved as early as possible.

"However, (self-help) was confirmed as a viable alternative to (cognitive-behavioural therapy), and may be offered to patients with reduced access, or who do not wish to participate in an individual psychotherapy."

de Zwaan, M. et al. Effect of Internet-Based Guided Self-help vs Individual Face-to-Face Treatment on Full or Subsyndromal Binge Eating Disorder in Overweight or Obese Patients: The INTERBED Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry 2 August 2017; doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.2150 [abstract]

Tags: Alternative Therapy | Diet & Food | Europe | Mental Health

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