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Keywords:

  • bulimia nervosa;
  • therapeutic writing;
  • emotional processing;
  • qualitative;
  • e-mail delivery;
  • mood regulation;
  • beliefs about emotions

Abstract

Objective:

This study explored the effects on bulimic symptomatology of a writing task intended to reduce emotional avoidance.

Method:

Eighty individuals reporting symptoms of bulimia completed, by e-mail, a therapeutic or control writing task. Participants completed questionnaires on bulimic symptoms, mood, and potential moderating and mediating factors, and were followed up after 4 and 8 weeks. Writing content was explored using a word count package and qualitative framework analysis.

Results:

Bulimic symptoms decreased in both groups, although in both groups the number of participants who improved was approximately equal to the number who did not improve. Symptom decreases were associated with increases in perceived mood regulation abilities, and decreases in negative beliefs about emotions. Participants preferred internet delivery to face to face discussion.

Discussion:

For individuals experiencing symptoms of bulimia, the effects of therapeutic writing did not differ significantly from effects of a control writing task. © 2009 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2010