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Keywords:

  • eating disorders;
  • bulimia;
  • therapeutics;
  • meta-analysis

Objective:  To evaluate self-help interventions for patients with binge eating disorder (BED) and bulimia nervosa (BN), tested in randomized controlled trials, and compared with waiting list or any other type of control group.

Methods:  A systematic review including quality appraisal was conducted of randomized controlled trials, using self-help techniques in patients with BED and/or BN. Six databases were searched during the period between January 1994 and June 2004.

Results:  A total of 2686 articles were identified, 1701 abstracts were evaluated in detail and, nine studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria for this review. All studies indicated that patients treated with active interventions had a reduced number of binge eating episodes at end of treatment.

Conclusion:  The results support self-help interventions but shall be interpreted with caution. Because of the small number of studies using self-help techniques for BED and BN, further larger randomized, multi-center controlled studies that apply standardized inclusion criteria, evaluation instruments and self-help materials, are needed.