Previous studies have shown an unmet need in the treatment of eating disorders. In the last decade, interest in technology-based interventions (TBIs) (including computer- and Internet-based interventions [CBIs] or mobile interventions) for providing evidence-based therapies to individuals with different mental disorders has increased.
The aim of this review was to systematically evaluate the potential of TBIs in the field of eating disorders, namely for anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN), for both prevention and treatment, and also for carers of eating disorder patients.
A systematic literature search was conducted using Medline and PsycINFO. Bibliographies of retrieved articles were also reviewed without date or study type restrictions.
Forty studies resulting in 45 publications reporting outcomes fulfilled the inclusion criteria: 22 randomized controlled trials, 2 controlled studies, and 16 uncontrolled studies. In total, 3646 patients were included. Overall, the studies provided evidence for the efficacy of guided CBIs, especially for BN patients and for compliant patients. Furthermore, videoconferencing also appeared to be a promising approach. Evaluation results of Internet-based prevention of eating disorders and Internet-based programs for carers of eating disorder patients were also encouraging. Finally, there was preliminary evidence for the efficacy of mobile interventions.
TBIs may be an additional way of delivering evidence-based treatments to eating disorder patients and their use is likely to increase in the near future. TBIs may also be considered for the prevention of eating disorders and to support carers of eating disorder patients. Areas of future research and important issues such as guidance, therapeutic alliance, and dissemination are discussed.
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