A randomized controlled trial of an Internet-based intervention for eating disorders and the added value of expert-patient support: study protocol

Pieter J. Rohrbach*, Alexandra E. Dingemans, Philip Spinhoven, Elske Van den Akker-Van Marle, Joost R. Van Ginkel, Marjolein Fokkema, Markus Moessner, Stephanie Bauer, Eric F. Van Furth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: E-mental health has become increasingly popular in interventions for individuals with eating disorders (EDs). It has the potential to offer low-threshold interventions and guide individuals to the needed care more promptly. Featback is such an Internet-based intervention and consists of psychoeducation and a fully automated monitoring and feedback system. Preliminary findings suggest Featback to be (cost-)effective in reducing ED symptomatology. Additionally, e-mail or chat support by a psychologist did not enhance the effectiveness of Featback. Support by an expert patient (someone with a lived experience of an ED) might be more effective, since that person can effectively model healthy behavior and enhance self-efficacy in individuals struggling with an ED. The present study aims to replicate and build on earlier findings by further investigating the (cost-)effectiveness of Featback and the added value of expert-patient support. Methods: The study will be a randomized controlled trial with a two-by-two factorial design with repeated measures. The four conditions will be (1) Featback, in which participants receive automated feedback on a short monitoring questionnaire weekly, (2) Featback with weekly e-mail or chat support from an expert patient, (3) weekly support from an expert patient, and (4) a waiting list. Participants who are 16 years or older and have at least mild self-reported ED symptoms receive a baseline measure. Subsequently, they are randomized to one of the four conditions for 8 weeks. Participants will be assessed again post-intervention and at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months follow-up. The primary outcome measure will be ED psychopathology. Secondary outcome measures are experienced social support, self-efficacy, symptoms of anxiety and depression, user satisfaction, intervention usage, and help-seeking attitudes and behaviors. Discussion: The current study is the first to investigate e-mental health in combination with expert-patient support for EDs and will add to the optimization of the delivery of Internet-based interventions and expert-patient support. Trial registration: Netherlands Trial Register, NTR7065. Registered on 7 June 2018.
Original languageEnglish
Article number509
Number of pages17
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Cost-effectiveness
  • E-mental health
  • Eating disorders
  • Expert patient
  • Internet
  • Internet-based
  • Intervention
  • Peer support
  • Prevention
  • Treatment


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