The use of e-mail in the identification of bulimia nervosa and its treatment



Despite the great potential of new technologies, no systematic study of e-mail therapy for subjects with eating disorders has been published. We recruited, using a single announcement made via e-mail, from all 20 000 staff and students of a large college of the University of London, 23 individuals (all female) who appeared to fulfil diagnostic criteria for Bulimia Nervosa or Binge Eating Disorder (DSM IV). These women were offered on-line therapy by one of two clinicians experienced in the treatment of eating disorders. At 3-month follow-up, 19 returned questionnaires and showed significant reductions in outcome scores. Significant correlations were found between word count, a measure of engagement with treatment, and outcomes. This pilot study suggests that the Internet may be a useful way to recruit and treat those with eating disorders. A randomized controlled trial is indicated. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.