Background: Exposure therapy is the most effective treatment for anxiety and related disorders and its efficacy in the eating disorders is rapidly gaining support. Despite the strong evidence behind exposure therapy, many anxiety disorder providers do not endorse the usage of exposure therapy. Limited research has explored the use of exposure therapy in eating disorder providers, as well as the impact of framing on likelihood to use exposure therapy.
Objective: The current study (N = 125 eating disorder providers) manipulated the framing of exposure to feared foods (pizza).
Methods: We framed the treatment as an exposure, behavioral experiment, or acceptance/mindfulness-based intervention. We also tested attitudes towards exposure therapy in eating disorder providers.
Results: Participants were more likely to endorse willingness to use a treatment framed as a behavioral experiment over exposure and acceptance-based framing. This effect did not vary by degree type, type of provider, years in practice, experience, or training. We also found that providers with more training, specifically in eating disorder exposure, were more likely to use exposure over acceptance-based framed intervention (and vice versa). Finally, we found that eating disorder providers had a somewhat positive view of exposure therapy.
Conclusion: Framing of the intervention impacts likelihood that providers will endorse using specific interventions. Therefore, intervention development and dissemination efforts should consider the language around the description of evidence-based treatments. Furthermore, enhanced training and education specifically with eating disorder exposure therapy may enhance the likelihood of providers utilizing exposure therapy. Level I: experimental study.
Keywords: Behavioral experiment; Eating disorders; Exposure therapy; Fear of food; Framing; Mindfulness.
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