Empirically-supported and non-empirically supported therapies for bulimia nervosa: retrospective patient ratings.
Serpell L., Stobie B., Fairburn CG., van Schaick R.
BACKGROUND: Empirically supported therapies for bulimia nervosa include cognitive behaviour therapy and interpersonal therapy. Whilst these treatments have been shown to be effective in multiple randomised controlled trials, little research has investigated how they are perceived by patients who receive them. This study investigated whether empirically-supported psychological therapies (ESTs) are associated with superior self-rated treatment outcomes in clients with Bulimia Nervosa (BN). RESULTS: 98 adults who had received psychological therapy for BN in the United Kingdom completed a questionnaire which retrospectively assessed the specific contents of their psychological therapy and self-rated treatment outcomes. Around half the sample, fifty three participants reported receiving an EST. Fifty of these received Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and three Interpersonal Therapy (IPT). Where therapy met expert criteria for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Bulimia Nervosa (CBT-BN, an EST) participants reported superior treatment outcomes than those who appeared to receive non-specialist cognitive-behavioural therapy. However, self-rated treatment outcomes were similar overall between those whose therapy met criteria for ESTs and those whose therapy did not. CONCLUSIONS: The findings offer tentative support for the perceived helpfulness of CBT-BN as evaluated in controlled research trials. Cognitive-behavioural therapies for BN, as they are delivered in the UK, may not necessarily be perceived as more beneficial by clients with BN than psychological therapies which currently have less empirical support.