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Behav Res Ther. 2015 Feb;65:67-75. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2014.12.012. Epub 2014 Dec 30.

Randomized controlled pilot trial of a novel dissonance-based group treatment for eating disorders.

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Oregon Research Institute, USA. Electronic address:
Oregon Research Institute, USA.
Drexel University, USA.
University of Texas at Austin, USA.


The authors conducted a pilot trial of a new dissonance-based group eating disorder treatment designed to be a cost-effective front-line transdiagnostic treatment that could be more widely disseminated than extant individual or family treatments that are more expensive and difficult to deliver. Young women with a DSM-5 eating disorder (N = 72) were randomized to an 8-week dissonance-based Counter Attitudinal Therapy group treatment or a usual care control condition, completing diagnostic interviews and questionnaires at pre, post, and 2-month follow-up. Intent-to-treat analyses revealed that intervention participants showed greater reductions in outcomes than usual care controls in a multivariate multilevel model (χ(2)[6] = 34.1, p < .001), producing large effects for thin-ideal internalization (d = .79), body dissatisfaction (d = 1.14), and blinded interview-assessed eating disorder symptoms (d = .95), and medium effects for dissonance regarding perpetuating the thin ideal (d = .65) and negative affect (d = .55). Midway through this pilot we refined engagement procedures, which was associated with increased effect sizes (e.g., the d for eating disorder symptoms increased from .51 to 2.30). This new group treatment produced large reductions in eating disorder symptoms, which is encouraging because it requires about 1/20th the therapist time necessary for extant individual and family treatments, and has the potential to provide a cost-effective and efficacious approach to reaching the majority of individuals with eating disorders who do not presently received treatment.


Dissonance; Eating disorder; Efficacy trial; Group; Treatment

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