Psychological treatments for eating disorders have traditionally been provided using face-to-face therapy. However the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) resulted in eating disorder treatment services in Western Australia and around the world having to rapidly transition to providing treatment via teletherapy. Concerns have been raised that outcomes may be worse when treatment is delivered remotely via teletherapy than in person; and more generally that the pandemic may have resulted in a substantially worsening of symptoms among people with eating disorders. However high-quality research is needed to establish whether such claims are valid.
We sought to investigate the impact of a forced switch in therapy modality on treatment outcomes. We did this by studying the outcomes of eating disorder patients treated at CCI during the pandemic ("COVID cohort") and comparing them against patients treated at our clinic before the pandemic ("Pre-COVID cohort").
Treatment outcomes, such as reductions in eating disorder symptoms and impairment, were similar for the COVID and pre-COVID cohorts, suggesting that evidence-based treatment can still be effective when provided by teletherapy during a pandemic. Patients were grateful that they continued to receive care remotely during the pandemic; they perceived the quality of the care they received to be high and found teletherapy an acceptable way to provide eating disorder treatment.
The study suggests that providing evidence-based treatment for eating disorders via telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic is acceptable to patients and associated with positive treatment outcomes. This finding can help inform how clinicians and treatment services plan the delivery of treatment to eating disorder clients with face-to-face treatment is not possible.
If you're interested you can search for the article using the following links online...
Bronwyn Raykos, David Erceg-Hurn, James Hill, Bruce Campbell & Peter McEvoy
International Journal of Eating Disorders
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