Predictors of outcome in cognitive behavioural therapy for eating disorders: An exploratory study

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Objective: Early decrease in symptoms is a consistent predictor of good treatment outcome across all eating disorders. The current study explored the predictive value of novel early change variables in a transdiagnostic, non-underweight sample receiving 10-session cognitive behavioural therapy. Method: Participants who reported bingeing and/or purging in the week preceding baseline assessment (N = 62) were included in analyses. Early change variables were calculated for novel (body image flexibility, body image avoidance, body checking, and fear of compassion) and established predictors (behavioural symptoms and therapeutic alliance). Outcomes were global eating disorder psychopathology and clinical impairment at posttreatment and three-month follow-up. Intent-to-treat analyses were conducted using linear regression, adjusting for baseline values of the relevant outcome and early change in behavioural symptoms. Results: Early improvement in body image flexibility was the most consistent predictor of good outcome. Early change in body image avoidance and the fear of expressing and receiving compassion to/from others were significant predictors in some analyses. Discussion: Novel early change variables were significant predictors of eating disorder outcomes in this exploratory study. Model testing is required to understand the exact mechanisms by which these variables impact on outcomes, and whether there is potential benefit of modifying existing protocols. ANZCTR Trial Number: ACTRN12615001098527.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-68
Number of pages8
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • Body image
  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy
  • Compassion
  • Early change
  • Eating disorders
  • Predictors


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