Effectiveness of enhanced cognitive behavior therapy for eating disorders: A randomized controlled trial

Martie de Jong, Philip Spinhoven, Kees Korrelboom, Mathijs Deen, Iris van der Meer, Unna N. Danner, Selma van der Schuur, Maartje Schoorl, Hans W. Hoek*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Objective Enhanced cognitive behavior therapy (CBT-E) is a transdiagnostic treatment suitable for the full range of eating disorders (EDs). Although the effectiveness of CBT(-E) is clear, it is not being used as widely in clinical practice as guidelines recommend. The aim of the present study was to compare the effectiveness of CBT-E with treatment as usual (TAU), which was largely based on CBT principles.

Method We conducted a randomized controlled trial on a total of 143 adult patients with an ED who received either CBT-E or TAU. The primary outcome was recovery from the ED. Secondary outcome measures were levels of ED psychopathology, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Self-esteem, perfectionism, and interpersonal problems were repeatedly measured to examine possible moderating effects. We explored differences in duration and intensity between conditions.

Results After 80 weeks, there were no differences between conditions in decrease in ED psychopathology, or symptoms of anxiety and depression. However, in the first six weeks of treatment there was a larger decrease in ED psychopathology in the CBT-E condition. Moreover, when the internationally most widely used definition of recovery was applied, the recovery rate at 20 weeks of CBT-E was significantly higher (57.7%) than of TAU (36.0%). At 80 weeks, this difference was no longer significant (CBT-E 60.9%; TAU 43.6%). Furthermore, CBT-E was more effective in improving self-esteem and was also the less intensive and shorter treatment.

Discussion With broader use of CBT-E, the efficiency, accessibility and effectivity (on self-esteem) of treatment for EDs could be improved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-457
Number of pages11
JournalInternational journal of eating disorders
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May-2020
Externally publishedYes


  • CBT-E
  • cognitive behavior therapy
  • eating disorders
  • RCT
  • transdiagnostic
  • treatment outcome
  • CBT

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