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Secondary psychological outcomes in a controlled trial of Emotional Freedom Techniques and cognitive behaviour therapy in the treatment of food cravings

Citation (APA style): Stapleton, P., Bannatyne, A., Chatwin, H., Urzi, K.-C., Porter, B., & Sheldon, T. (2017). Secondary psychological outcomes in a controlled trial of Emotional Freedom Techniques and cognitive behaviour therapy in the treatment of food cravings. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 28, 136-145. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2017.06.004

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  • First controlled non-inferiority trial to examine the effectiveness of two psychological interventions, Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), in treating secondary psychological outcomes of obesity.
  • The CBT group did not report any significant changes in anxiety scores over time, but the decrease in depression symptoms pre-to post-intervention was significant and this was maintained at 6-and 12-months.
  • Anxiety and depression scores significantly decreased from pre-to post-intervention for the EFT group, and was maintained at 6- and 12-month follow-up.
  • Somatoform scores significantly decreased from pre-intervention to all follow-up points for the CBT group, while the EFT group did not report any significant changes in somatoform symptoms.
  • Results revealed that EFT is capable of producing reductions in anxiety and depression symptoms, and may be comparable to gold standard approaches such as CBT.
  • Psychological intervention is beneficial for treating psychological comorbidities of obesity and points to the role mental health issues may play in this area.

Abstract

Objective: Examining the effectiveness of psychological interventions in treating secondary psychological outcomes of obesity has become prioritized in recent times. The objective of the present study was to compare an eight-week Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) intervention program, in the treatment of food cravings and secondary psychological outcomes among overweight or obese adults (N = 83).

Method: A controlled non-inferiority trial was performed comparing group-delivered CBT to group-delivered EFT. Participants completed the Patient Health Questionnaire at pre- and post-intervention, and at six and 12-months follow-up.

Results: The CBT group did not report any significant changes in anxiety scores over time, but the decrease in depression symptoms pre-to post-intervention was significant and this was maintained at 6-and 12-months. Anxiety and depression scores significantly decreased from pre-to post-intervention for the EFT group, and was maintained at 6- and 12-month follow-up. Somatoform scores significantly decreased from pre-intervention to all follow-up points for the CBT group, while the EFT group did not report any significant changes in somatoform symptoms. Results also revealed that EFT is capable of producing reductions in anxiety and depression symptoms, and may be comparable to gold standard approaches such as CBT.

Conclusion: The current study supports the hypothesis that psychological intervention is beneficial for treating psychological comorbidities of obesity and points to the role mental health issues may play in this area.

Keywords: EFT, Emotional Freedom Techniques, CBT, cognitive behavioural therapy, obesity, depression, anxiety, somatic, obesity, food cravings, overweight

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