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Internet-Based CBT for Binge Eating Disorder

A recent study published in Behaviour Research and Therapy found that a Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) based self-help treatment program for binge eating disorder (BED) could be successfully implemented online. BED is characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating with a sense of loss of control, marked distress, and without the presence of compensatory behaviors (e.g., purging). Previous research indicates that CBT is an effective treatment for BED and associated symptoms and psychopathology. The current study sought to implement an internet-based CBT self-help program for this population.

Participants included 74 women, ages 18 to 60, who met full or sub-threshold diagnostic criteria for BED. Measures included the Eating Disorders in Obesity (EDO) questionnaire, the Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire (EDE-Q), the Eating Disorder Inventory-2 (EDI-2), and the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire (TFEQ). Participants were first assessed at baseline using the EDO and then randomly assigned to two groups: (1) an internet group, which consisted of a 6-month internet guided self-help treatment intervention followed by a six-month follow-up period, and (2) a control group, which consisted of a 6-month waitlist. The treatment program included daily self-monitoring, identifying binge triggers and automatic thoughts, cognitive restructuring, and relapse prevention. Additionally, two psychologists worked as coaches and provided weekly guidance to participants. Participants were reassessed following treatment, and again at a 6-month follow-up period.

The Internet self-help treatment program had positive effects on the symptoms associated with eating disorders. Outcome variables such as drive for thinness, body dissatisfaction and shape concern improved significantly. Participants also showed improvements in impulse regulation and self-esteem. These findings suggest that a CBT-based self-help treatment program for BED can be successfully implemented online and maintain treatment efficacy.

Carrard I., Crépin, C., Rouget, P., Lam, T., Golay, A., & Van der Linden, M. (2011). Randomised controlled trial of a guided self-help treatment on the Internet for binge eating disorder.  Behaviour Research and Therapy, 43, 482-491.