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Psychol Rep. 1990 Apr;66(2):667-74.

Bulimia nervosa: group behavior therapy with exposure plus response prevention.

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Department of Psychology, American University, Washington, DC 20016.


Exposure plus response prevention has been demonstrated to be effective in the treatment of bulimia nervosa. However, when done individually, it is labor intensive and cost-ineffective. In the present study exposure plus response prevention was used in the context of a 6-wk., 12-session behavioral group. In addition to the exposure plus response-prevention component, other techniques included self-monitoring, cognitive restructuring, eating-habit stabilization and problem-solving. Eight bulimic women, vomiting a minimum of five times per week for at least a year, participated in the group. At the end of treatment significant reductions in bingeing and vomiting behaviors were reported by all but one subject, substantiated by significantly lower depression scores (Beck Depression Inventory) and binge-eating scores (Binge Eating Scale). At 6 mo. and 1 yr. posttreatment, 6 of 8 subjects reported averaging less than one binge-purge episode per week, one subject continued unchanged, and one subject had relapsed. A group of wait-list control subjects reported essentially no change in binge-purge frequency over the treatment period. Exposure plus response prevention conducted in a behavioral group context appears to be a cost-effective alternative to individual treatment.

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