Family-Based Treatment via Telehealth

Eating disorder researchers have consistently demonstrated that family-based treatment (FBT) is the best treatment solution for children with anorexia. Additionally, an emerging body of evidence is showing similar effectiveness for children and adolescents with bulimia and adults with anorexia. FBT works because it is time-efficient, cost-effective, and delivered in a “real life” outpatient setting. FBT aims to empower and equip parents with the various tools and skills they need to take their child’s health into their own hands and help to restore it.

Study Results: Family-Based Treatment via Telehealth

According to a study published on August 11th in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, family-based treatment via telehealth programs has been determined to be as feasible and as effective as treatment provided in-vivo. The study by Kristen E. Anderson, MSW from the Chicago Center for Evidence Based Treatment studied FBT delivered via Telehealth to 10 adolescents diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. All participants were retained for the full course of treatment and improved significantly from baseline to end of treatment (P=0.013). These findings provide preliminary evidence that it would be feasible for clinicians to offer FBT via telehealth programs in the near future. These findings also suggest that successful outcomes from FBT telehealth programs are highly achievable.

Family-Based Treatment via Telehealth Improves Access

The implication of this research surrounds access. Most importantly, these findings provide a novel treatment option for those who do not have access to quality treatment centers due to geography or socioeconomic status. Such individuals now have a viable, affordable, efficacious and time-sensitive treatment option in Telehealth FBT. It is important to note that face-to-face intervention at a qualified eating disorder clinic continues to be recognized as the gold standard in eating disorder treatment, although telehealth will be welcomed and life-changing alternative for many individuals.

At Columbus Park Eating Disorder Center in New York City, we have seen remarkable results in our FBT program. It varies by patient, but at Columbus Park, we typically see patients start to restore weight within the first two weeks and continue with restoration at the rate of around one to three pounds per week. For more information about our outcomes click here.