Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: Research suggests that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective psychotherapeutic treatment for bulimia nervosa. One exception was a study that suggested that interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) might be as effective as CBT, although slower to achieve its effects. The present study is designed to repeat this important comparison. METHOD: Two hundred twenty patients meeting DSM-III-R criteria for bulimia nervosa were allocated at random to 19 sessions of either CBT or IPT conducted over a 20-week period and evaluated for 1 year after treatment in a multisite study. RESULTS: Cognitive-behavioral therapy was significantly superior to IPT at the end of treatment in the percentage of participants recovered (29% [n=32] vs 6% [n=71), the percentage remitted (48% [n=53] vs 28% [n = 31]), and the percentage meeting community norms for eating attitudes and behaviors (41% [n=45] vs 27% [n=30]). For treatment completers, the percentage recovered was 45% (n= 29) for CBT and 8% (n= 5) for IPT. However, at follow-up, there were no significant differences between the 2 treatments: 26 (40%) CBT completers had recovered at follow-up compared with 17 (27%) IPT completers. CONCLUSIONS: Cognitive-behavioral therapy was significantly more rapid in engendering improvement in patients with bulimia nervosa than IPT. This suggests that CBT should be considered the preferred psychotherapeutic treatment for bulimia nervosa.


Journal article


Arch Gen Psychiatry

Publication Date





459 - 466


Adult, Bulimia, Cognitive Therapy, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Psychiatric Status Rating Scales, Psychotherapy, Reproducibility of Results, Treatment Outcome