Feasibility of conducting a randomized controlled trial comparing family‐based treatment via videoconferencing and online guided self‐help family‐based treatment for adolescent anorexia nervosa Academic Article uri icon

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  • Objective

    This report describes the feasibility, acceptability, and outcomes from a pilot randomized clinical trial (RCT) comparing an online guided self-help program version of family-based treatment (GSH-FBT) for parents with a child with DSM-5 anorexia nervosa (AN) to FBT delivered via videoconferencing (FBT-V).


    Between August 2019 and October 2020, 40 adolescents ages 12-18 years with DSM-5 AN and their families were recruited at two sites and randomized to either twelve 20-min guided sessions of GSH-FBT for parents or fifteen 60-min sessions of FBT-V for the entire family. Recruitment, retention, and acceptability of treatment were the primary outcomes. Secondary outcomes were changes in weight, eating disorder examination (EDE), parental self-efficacy, weight remission, full remission, and outcome efficiency (therapist time needed to achieve treatment outcomes).


    Descriptive data are reported. Recruitment and retention rates are similar to RCTs using in-person treatments. Both treatments received similar acceptability rates. Medium and large effect sizes (ES) related to improvements in weight, EDE, parental self-efficacy, and remission were achieved in both treatments and were maintained at a 3-month follow-up. Clinical outcomes between groups were associated with a small ES. Differences in efficiency (outcome/therapist time) were associated with a large ES difference favoring GSH-FBT.


    These data support the feasibility of conducting an adequately powered RCT comparing online GSH-FBT to FBT-V to determine which approach is more efficient in achieving improvements in clinical outcomes in adolescents with AN.

publication date

  • November 2021