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20-08-2019 | REVIEW

Eating Disorder Treatment: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of the Efficacy of Mindfulness-Based Programs

Roxane Turgon, Alexis Ruffault, Catherine Juneau, Catherine Blatier, Rebecca Shankland
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This systematic review and meta-analysis sought to evaluate the efficacy of mindfulness-based programs (MBPs) on eating disorder (ED) symptoms and related outcomes such as BMI, body dissatisfaction, emotion regulation, and negative affect. It also examined moderators that predicted larger intervention effects.


A search for studies evaluating such MBPs on participants with EDs was conducted in several online databases. In total, 23 articles were included in the systematic review and 22 in the meta-analysis (10 randomized controlled trials).


Results showed a within-condition effect of MBPs on ED symptoms, emotional eating, negative affect, and body dissatisfaction, and on BMI in anorectic and bulimic participants relative to pre-assessment. A significant within-condition effect sizes ranged from d = .62 (negative affect) to d = 1.05 (ED symptoms). Meta-regression analyses showed that participants with BED and women benefit more of MBPs on mindfulness skills and emotion regulation skills than participants with anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and men. A high risk of bias was correlated with a larger effect of MBPs on mindfulness skills and emotion regulation skills but a smaller effect on restrained eating. Longer treatment was correlated with a larger effect of MBPs on emotion regulation skills.


Results indicated some positive correlations between MBPs and outcomes but a definitive conclusion cannot be drawn since these results are on within-condition effects and that half of the included studies did not have a control condition. Results identified moderators that may be useful to refine inclusion and exclusion criteria to target those most likely to benefit from MBPs. The field needs more rigorous studies with credible alternative interventions to confirm the efficacy of MBPs for ED patients.

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