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Keywords:

  • eating disorders;
  • bulimia nervosa;
  • binge eating;
  • email;
  • therapy;
  • internet

Abstract

One hundred and ten people in an university population responded to emailed eating disorder questionnaires. Ninty-seven fulfilling criteria for eating disorders (bulimia nervosa (BN), binge eating disorder (BED), EDNOS) were randomised to therapist administered email bulimia therapy (eBT), unsupported Self directed writing (SDW) or Waiting list control (WLC). Measures were repeated at 3 months. Diagnosis, Beck depression inventory (BDI) and Bulimia investigatory test (BITE) scores were recorded. Follow-up rate was 63% and results must be interpreted cautiously. However significantly fewer participants who had received eBT or SDW fulfilled criteria for eating disorders at follow up compared to WLC. There was no significant difference between eBT and SDW in the analysis of variance (ANOVA), although in separate analyses, eBT was significantly superior to WLC (p < 0.02) and the difference for SDW approached significance (p = 0.06). BDI and BITE scores showed no significant change. For eBT participants there was a significant positive correlation between words written and improvement in BITE severity score. BN, BED and EDNOS can be treated via email. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.