Background: Eating disorders are serious conditions associated with an impaired health-related quality of life and increased healthcare utilization and costs. Despite the existence of evidence-based treatments, access to treatment is often delayed due to insufficient health care resources. Internet-based self-help interventions may have the potential to successfully bridge waiting time for face-to-face outpatient treatment and, thus, contribute to overcoming treatment gaps. However, little is known about the feasibility of implementing such interventions into routine healthcare. The aim of this study is to analyze the effects and feasibility of an Internet-based self-help intervention (everyBody Plus) specifically designed for patients with Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder and other specified feeding and eating disorders (OSFED) on a waiting list for outpatient face-to-face treatment. The aim of this paper is to describe the study protocol.
Methods: A multi-country randomized controlled trial will be conducted in Germany and the UK. N = 275 female patients awaiting outpatient treatment will be randomly allocated either to the guided online self-help intervention "everyBody Plus" or a waitlist control group condition without access to the intervention. everyBody Plus comprises eight weekly sessions that cover topics related to eating and exercise patterns, coping with negative emotions and stress as well as improving body image. Participants will receive weekly individualized feedback based on their self-monitoring and journal entries. Assessments will take place at baseline, post-intervention as well as at 6- and 12-months follow up. In addition, all participants will be asked to monitor core eating disorder symptoms weekly to provide data on the primary outcome. The primary outcome will be number of weeks after randomization until a patient achieves a clinically relevant improvement in core symptoms (BMI, binge eating, compensatory behaviors) for the first time. Secondary outcomes include frequency of core symptoms and eating disorder related attitudes and behaviors, as well as associated psychopathology. Additional secondary outcomes will be the participating therapists' confidence in treating eating disorders as well as perceived benefits of everyBody Plus for patients.
Discussion: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first randomized controlled trial examining the effects of Internet-based self-help for outpatients with eating disorders awaiting face-to-face outpatient treatment. If proven to be effective and successfully implemented, Internet-based self-help programs might be used as a first step of treatment within a stepped-care approach, thus reducing burden and cost for both patients and health care providers.
- Eating disorders
- Internet-based interventions
- Guided self-help
- Bridging waiting time
- Randomized controlled trial