Cognitive-behavioral therapy for binge eating disorder in adolescents: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Anja Hilbert
Trials 2013, 14: 312

BACKGROUND: Binge eating disorder is a prevalent adolescent disorder, associated with increased eating disorder and general psychopathology as well as an increased risk for overweight and obesity. As opposed to binge eating disorder in adults, there is a lack of validated psychological treatments for this condition in adolescents. The goal of this research project is therefore to determine the efficacy of age-adapted cognitive-behavioral therapy in adolescents with binge eating disorder - the gold standard treatment for adults with binge eating disorder.

METHODS/DESIGN: In a single-center efficacy trial, 60 12- to 20-year-old adolescents meeting diagnostic criteria of binge eating disorder (full-syndrome or subthreshold) according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th or 5th Edition, will be centrally randomized to 4 months of cognitive-behavioral therapy (n = 30) or a waiting-list control condition (n = 30). Using an observer-blind design, patients are assessed at baseline, mid-treatment, post-treatment, and at 6- and 12-month follow-ups after the end of treatment. In 20 individual outpatient sessions, cognitive-behavioral therapy for adolescents focuses on eating behavior, body image, and stress; parents receive psychoeducation on these topics. Primary endpoint is the number of episodes with binge eating over the previous 28 days at post-treatment using a state-of-the art clinical interview. Secondary outcome measures address the specific eating disorder psychopathology, general psychopathology, mental comorbidity, self-esteem, quality of life, and body weight.

DISCUSSION: This trial will allow us to determine the short- and long-term efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy in adolescent binge eating disorder, to determine cost-effectiveness, and to identify predictors of treatment outcome. Evidence will be gathered regarding whether this treatment will help to prevent excessive weight gain. If efficacy can be demonstrated, the results from this trial will enhance availability of evidence-based treatment of adolescent binge eating disorder.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: German Clinical Trials Register: DRKS00000542.

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