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Exploring Participants' Experiences of a Web-Based Program for Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorder: Qualitative Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere17880
Pages (from-to)e17880
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number9
Published23 Sep 2020

King's Authors


BACKGROUND: Guided cognitive behavioral self-help is a recommended first-line treatment for eating disorders (EDs) such as bulimia nervosa (BN) or binge eating disorder (BED). Online versions of such self-help programs are increasingly being studied in randomized controlled trials (RCTs), with some evidence that they can reduce ED symptoms, although intervention dropout is variable across interventions. However, in-depth research into participants' experiences and views on the acceptability of web-based interventions is limited. OBJECTIVE: This is a qualitative process study of participants' experiences of everyBody Plus, a web-based cognitive behavioral intervention, integrated into a large RCT to aid the interpretation of the main trial's results. To our knowledge, this is the first such study in digital intervention for EDs research to include real-time feedback into the qualitative analysis. This study aims to build upon the emerging literature by qualitatively exploring participants' experiences of a web-based intervention for BN and BED. METHODS: Participants were those who took part in the UK arm of a larger RCT investigating the efficacy of the everyBody Plus intervention. Reflexive thematic analysis was completed on 2 sources of data from the online platform: real-time feedback quotes provided at the end of completing a module on the platform (N=104) and semistructured telephone interview transcripts (n=12). RESULTS: Four main themes were identified. The first theme identified positive and negative user experiences, with a desire for a more customized and personalized intervention. Another theme positively reflected on how flexible and easy the intervention was to embed into daily life, compared with the silo of face-to-face therapy. The third theme identified how the intervention had a holistic impact cognitively, emotionally, interpersonally, and behaviorally. The final theme was related to how the intervention was not a one size fits all and how the perceived usefulness and relevance were often dependent on participants' demographic and clinical characteristics. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, participants reported positive experiences with the use of the everyBody Plus web-based intervention, including flexibility of use and the potential to holistically impact people's lives. The participants also provided valuable suggestions for how similar future web-based interventions could be improved and, in the context of EDs, how programs can be designed to be more inclusive of people by encompassing different demographic and clinical characteristics.

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