Utilizing Telehealth to deliver family-based treatment for adolescent anorexia nervosa

Int J Eat Disord. 2017 Oct;50(10):1235-1238. doi: 10.1002/eat.22759. Epub 2017 Aug 11.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to test the feasibility and preliminary effect size on the main outcome measure (weight gain) of family-based treatment (FBT) for adolescents with anorexia nervosa (AN) and their families delivered via a Telehealth platform (i.e., an HIPAA compliant videoconferencing format).

Method: Ten adolescents, mean age of 16.08 years (SD = 1.99), meeting DSM-5 criteria for AN or atypical AN, were enrolled in the study and offered FBT via a Telehealth platform. Feasibility and acceptability were evaluated by rates of recruitment and retention. Treatment outcome was determined utilizing percent median body mass index (%mBMI), the eating disorder examination (EDE), and measures for depression and self-esteem.

Results: Recruitment target was achieved within allotted time, and all participants were retained for the course of treatment. Percent mBMI improved significantly from baseline to the end-of-treatment (p = .013) and from baseline to the 6-month follow-up (p = .032). Similar results were achieved for the EDE Global Score (p = .002 and .001, respectively).

Discussion: These findings provide preliminary evidence that it is feasible to deliver FBT via Telehealth and that satisfactory clinical outcomes are achievable.

Keywords: Telehealth; adolescent anorexia nervosa; family-based treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anorexia Nervosa / therapy*
  • Family Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome