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Open Access Study protocol

Effectiveness of a web-based treatment program using intensive therapeutic support for female patients with bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and eating disorders not otherwise specified: study protocol of a randomized controlled trial

Elke D ter Huurne12*, Marloes G Postel13, Hein A de Haan12 and Cor AJ DeJong24

Author Affiliations

1 Tactus Addiction Treatment, Institutenweg1, P.O. Box 154, Enschede, PH, 7521, The Netherlands

2 Nijmegen Institute for Scientist Practitioners in Addiction, Toernooiveld 5, P.O. Box 6909, 6503 GK Nijmegen, The Netherlands

3 Department of Psychology Health & Technology, University of Twente, P.O. Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands

4 Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, Montessorilaan 3, P.O. Box 9104, 6500 HE Nijmegen, The Netherlands

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BMC Psychiatry 2013, 13:310  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-13-310

Published: 16 November 2013

Abstract

Background

Disordered eating behavior and body dissatisfaction affect a large proportion of the Dutch population and account for severe psychological, physical and social morbidity. Yet, the threshold for seeking professional care is still high. In the Netherlands, only 7.5% of patients with bulimia nervosa and 33% of patients with anorexia nervosa are treated within the mental health care system. Easily accessible and low-threshold interventions, therefore, are needed urgently. The internet has great potential to offer such interventions. The aim of this study is to determine whether a web-based treatment program for patients with eating disorders can improve eating disorder psychopathology among female patients with bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and eating disorders not otherwise specified.

Methods/design

This randomized controlled trial will compare the outcomes of an experimental treatment group to a waiting list control group. In the web-based treatment program, participants will communicate personally and asynchronously with their therapists exclusively via the internet. The first part of the program will focus on analyzing eating attitudes and behaviors. In the second part of the program participants will learn how to change their attitudes and behaviors. Participants assigned to the waiting list control group will receive no-reply email messages once every two weeks during the waiting period of 15 weeks, after which they can start the program. The primary outcome measure is an improvement in eating disorder psychopathology as determined by the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire. Secondary outcomes include improvements in body image, physical and mental health, body weight, self-esteem, quality of life, and social contacts. In addition, the participants’ motivation for treatment and their acceptability of the program and the therapeutic alliance will be measured. The study will follow the recommendations in the CONSORT statement relating to designing and reporting on RCTs.

Discussion

This study protocol presents the design of a RCT for evaluating the effectiveness of a web-based treatment program using intensive therapeutic support for female patients with bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and eating disorders not otherwise specified.

Trial registration

The protocol for this study is registered with the Netherlands Trial Registry NTR2415.

Keywords:
Eating disorders; Bulimia nervosa; Binge eating disorder; Eating disorders not otherwise specified; Randomized controlled trial; Web-based treatment program; e-health; Intensive therapeutic support; Asynchronous support