The effects of a meaning-centered intervention on meaning in life and eating disorder symptoms in undergraduate women with high weight and shape concerns: a randomized controlled trial

Sanne van Doornik*, Klaske Glashouwer, Brian Ostafin, Peter de Jong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


Low meaning in life has been proposed as an important factor in the maintenance of eating disorders and previous findings suggest that targeting meaning might optimize treatment effectiveness. The current randomized controlled trial aimed to investigate the efficacy of meaning-centered psychotherapy adjusted for eating disorders (MCP-ED) to improve meaning in women with high weight and shape concerns. Female students with high weight and shape concerns (N = 134) were randomly assigned to the waiting-list control condition or the experimental condition, in which they followed six weekly individual sessions of MCP-ED. Self-report measures of meaning, eating disorder symptoms, general distress, psychological well-being, and satisfaction with meaningful life domains were completed at baseline, after the final session of MCP-ED or a seven-week waiting period, and at four week follow-up. Participants in the experimental condition showed a stronger increase in meaning than participants in the waiting-list condition after the intervention and at follow-up. The intervention also resulted in lower eating disorder symptoms and general distress, and higher psychological well-being and satisfaction with meaningful life domains. Findings support the efficacy of MCP-ED as an intervention to increase meaning and point to the relevance of examining whether adding MCP-ED to regular treatment might increase treatment effectiveness in individuals with eating disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-190
Number of pages14
JournalBehavior Therapy
Issue number1
Early online date7-Jun-2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2024

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