Evaluation of a web-based skills intervention for carers of people with anorexia nervosa: A randomized controlled trial

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To investigate the feasibility and usefulness of an online information and skills development intervention for carers of individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) and individuals with AN.


Thirty-seven carers and seventeen individuals with AN were recruited; carers completed the intervention Overcoming Anorexia Online (OAO), with random allocation to receiving additional clinician guidance (OAO-G) or no guidance (OAO-NoG). Level of expressed emotion, distress, depressive symptoms, experience of caregiving, and impact of eating disorder symptoms were assessed in carers and perceptions of changes in their carers' expressed emotion were assessed in individuals with AN. Participants completed questionnaires at pre-intervention, post-intervention and 3-month follow-up.


Significant reductions were found for carer intrusiveness, negative experiences of caregiving, and the impact of starvation and guilt. Within group effect sizes suggested mixed findings with respect to whether greater benefits were conferred for carers receiving clinician guidance. Decreases in perceived intrusiveness of the carer by the individual with AN were associated with a large effect size.


Results demonstrate the feasibility and usefulness of an online intervention for carers. Further examination of the efficacy of the intervention for both carers and individuals with AN is warranted. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2013; 46:634–638)

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