Face-To-Face Treatment Remains Gold Standard Despite Telehealth Advancements

A German research study recently published to JAMA Psychiatry confirmed that face-to-face treatment remains the gold standard treatment for Binge Eating Disorder (BED). This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of internet-based guided self-help compared with the traditional, gold standard intervention of face-to-face CBT. Despite cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) representing the criterion standard for treatment of Binge Eating Disorder (BED), some individuals (e.g. individuals in rural geographic areas) do not have access to this specialized treatment.

Study Results Support Face-to-Face Treatment

This study found that, while an internet-based self-help program did help people binge eat less often, face-to-face treatment led to a larger and faster reduction in binge eating episodes. The study assigned 178 overweight or obese patients with binge eating disorder to participate in 20 50-minute face-to-face cognitive behavioral therapy sessions or 11 internet-based self-help sessions. After six months, those in the self-help group reported an average of about 5 binge eating days during a period of 28 days, compared to about 3 among the cognitive-behavioral therapy group.

Secondly, results suggested that proportion of patients who were no longer binge eating was higher in the cognitive-behavioral therapy group than in the self-help group both during and a year and a half after the study concluded. One of the most important take-away findings is that the CBT worked faster than self-help. As we know, the earlier a successful intervention is implemented, the higher the likelihood of success. Patients struggling with eating disorders need their struggles resolved as early into treatment as possible.

Telehealth As An Effective Alternative

These findings do suggest that, while internet-based programs have not replaced traditional methods as the most efficacious and effective, they, while slower acting, remain a viable, low-threshold treatment. Telehealth and guided self-help programs are a wonderful alternative for those who do not have access to quality face-to-face treatment in their area.

For readers in the NY area, Columbus Park is one of the few settings where you can get CBT-E treatment true to the model. All of our clinicians are intensively trained in CBT-E. We rely on the treatment often because of its efficacy (it really works!) and efficiency (short-term, cost effective, and manageable even for those with busy lives). Please don’t hesitate to contact us to see if CBT-E will be right for you. Click here to learn more about the method of CBT-E utilized at Columbus Park