A preliminary naturalistic clinical case series study of the feasibility and impact of interoceptive exposure for eating disorders

James F. Boswell, Lisa M. Anderson, Jennifer M. Oswald, Erin E. Reilly, Sasha Gorrell, Drew A. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent literature suggests that individuals with eating disorders demonstrate altered interoceptive processing, which may relate to the maintenance of symptoms and thus represent a salient treatment target. Adopting treatment techniques effective for other conditions characterized by disturbed interoceptive processes (e.g., anxiety disorders)could aid in improving the outcomes of psychological interventions for eating disorders. The current investigation was a naturalistic case series (N = 4)that examined adjunctive interoceptive exposure (IE)for eating disorders, with an emphasis on evaluating the feasibility, acceptability, and impact of this intervention on anxiety sensitivity, interoceptive deficits, and eating disorder symptoms. Results suggested that all individuals who received 4 consecutive sessions of traditional and eating-disorder-specific IE exercises demonstrated decreases in interoceptive deficits and subjective distress. Results for anxiety sensitivity and eating disorder symptoms were encouraging yet more mixed. Findings also generally suggested that the intervention was feasible and acceptable, yet between-session practice compliance varied considerably among participants. Overall, we describe how IE may be used to target interoceptive deficits in eating disorders and provide preliminary evidence of how this may be accomplished within naturalistic intensive outpatient settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-64
Number of pages11
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Volume117
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Case series
  • Eating disorders
  • Exposure therapy
  • Interoceptive deficits
  • Interoceptive exposure

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