Self-help and guided self-help for eating disorders
The eating disorders (anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), binge eating disorder (BED) and eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS)) are disabling conditions and specialist treatment is not always easily accessible. Self-help may bridge the gap. This review aimed to evaluate pure self-help (PSH) and guided self-help (GSH) interventions for eating disorders for all ages and genders, compared to psychological, pharmacological or control treatments and waiting list. Fifteen trials were identified, all focused on BN, BED or EDNOS, using manual-based self-help. There is some evidence that PSH/GSH reduce eating disorder and other symptoms in comparison to waiting list or control treatment and may produce comparable outcomes to formal therapist-delivered psychological therapies. PSH/GSH may have some utility as a first step in treatment. In the future there need to be large well-conducted effectiveness studies of self-help treatments with or without guidance incorporating cost evaluations and investigation of different types of self-help in different populations and settings.
Available from: Stephan Zipfel
- "Perkins et al.  summarized in the Cochrane review that, at present, RCTs on self-help in eating disorders are mostly manual-based treatments in book format. Other media for delivering self-help need to be explored as well: “In particular, approaches using new technologies such as the Internet need to be researched further, as they are likely to be more interactive and hence may be more attractive to patients than manual-based approaches” . The German Society for the Internet in Medicine recommends that new technologies such as the internet should be researched further. "
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ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Binge eating disorder (BED) is a prevalent clinical eating disorder associated with increased psychopathology, psychiatric comorbidity, overweight and obesity, and increased health care costs. Since its inclusion in the DSM-IV, a few randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have suggested efficacy of book-based self-help interventions in the treatment of this disorder. However, evidence from larger RCTs is needed. Delivery of self-help through new technologies such as the internet should be investigated in particular, as these approaches have the potential to be more interactive and thus more attractive to patients than book-based approaches. This study will evaluate the efficacy of an internet-based guided self-help program (GSH-I) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which has been proven in several studies to be the gold standard treatment for BED, in a prospective multicenter randomized trial. METHODS: The study assumes the noninferiority of GSH-I compared to CBT. Both treatments lasted 4 months, and maintenance of outcome will be assessed 6 and 18 months after the end of treatment. A total of 175 patients with BED and a body mass index between 27 and 40 kg/m2 were randomized at 7 centers in Germany and Switzerland. A 20% attrition rate was assumed. As in most BED treatment trials, the difference in the number of binge eating days over the past 28 days is the primary outcome variable. Secondary outcome measures include the specific eating disorder psychopathology, general psychopathology, body weight, quality of life, and self-esteem. Predictors and moderators of treatment outcome will be determined, and the cost-effectiveness of both treatment conditions will be evaluated. RESULTS: The methodology for the INTERBED study has been detailed. CONCLUSIONS: Although there is evidence that CBT is the first-line treatment for BED, it is not widely available. As BED is still a recent diagnostic category, many cases likely remain undiagnosed, and a large number of patients either receive delayed treatment or never get adequate treatment. A multicenter efficacy trial will give insight into the efficacy of a new internet-based guided self-help program and will allow a direct comparison to the evidence-based gold standard treatment of CBT in Germany.Trial RegistrationCurrent Controlled Trials ISRCTN40484777German Clinical Trial Register DRKS00000409.
Available from: Anthony Jorm
- "Those with eating disorders are also more likely to engage help-seeking from informal sources, such as their social network, or to use self-help strategies, such as increasing intake of vitamins and minerals or searching for information on the internet, than they are to obtain formal treatment
[12,14-16]. While there are self-help strategies known to be useful in reducing some eating disorder symptoms, these are rarely utilised
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ABSTRACT: Eating disorders cause significant burden that may be reduced by early and appropriate help-seeking. However, despite the availability of effective treatments, very few individuals with eating disorders seek treatment. Training in mental health first aid is known to be effective in increasing mental health literacy and supportive behaviours, in the social networks of individuals with mental health problems. Increases in these domains are thought to improve the likelihood that effective help is sought. However, the efficacy of mental health first aid for eating disorders has not been evaluated. The aim of this research was to examine whether specific training in mental health first aid for eating disorders was effective in changing knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards people with eating disorders.
A repeated measures, uncontrolled trial was conducted to establish proof of concept and provide guidance on the future design of a randomised controlled trial. Self-report questionnaires, administered at baseline, post-training and 6-month follow-up, assessed the effectiveness of the 4-hour, single session, mental health first aid training.
73 participants completed the training and all questionnaires. The training intervention was associated with statistically significant increases in problem recognition and knowledge of appropriate mental health first aid strategies, which were maintained at 6-month follow-up. Sustained significant changes in attitudes and behaviours were less clear. 20 participants reported providing assistance to someone with a suspected eating disorder, seven of whom sought professional help as a result of the first aid interaction. Results provided no evidence of a negative impact on participants or the individuals they provided assistance to.
This research provides preliminary evidence for the use of training in mental health first aid as a suitable intervention for increasing community knowledge of and support for people with eating disorders to seek appropriate help.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12611001181998
Available from: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- "Larger effects have generally been obtained when the Internet component is paired with brief, inperson , telephone or email contacts with a counselor or behavioral coach (Andersson, 2006; Palmqvist et al., 2007; van Straten, Cuijpers, & Smits, 2008). This approach is often referred to as " guided self-help " (Fairburn & Carter, 1997; Perkins et al., 2006) or " minimal contact therapy " (Newman et al., 2003). "
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ABSTRACT: This study evaluated an Internet-delivered, cognitive behavioral skills training program versus a treatment-as-usual (TAU) control condition targeting depression symptoms in young adults aged 18 to 24 years. Potential participants were mailed a recruitment brochure; if interested, they accessed the study website to complete an online consent and baseline assessment. Intervention participants could access the website at their own pace and at any time. Reminder postcards were mailed periodically to encourage return use of the intervention. The pure self-help intervention was delivered without contact with a live therapist. The primary depression outcome measure was the Patient Health Questionnaire, administered at 0, 5, 10, 16, and 32 weeks after enrollment. A small but significant between-group effect was found from Week 0 to Week 32 for the entire sample (N = 160, d = .20, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.00-0.50), with a moderate effect among women (n = 128, d .42, 95%C1 = 0.09-0.77). Greater depression reduction was associated with two measures of lower website usage, total minutes, and total number of page hits. Although intervention effects were modest, they were observed against a background of substantial TAU depression pharmacotherapy and psychosocial services. Highly disseminable, low-cost, and self-help interventions such as this have the potential to deliver a significant public health benefit.
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