Our team at CCI were recently granted funding through the Building Allied Health Research Capacity grant scheme to conduct a research project exploring how we can improve telehealth delivery of eating disorder treatment based on outcomes and patients’ experiences during COVID-19.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, CCI made a rapid transition to providing psychological treatment via telehealth (i.e., sessions held through video conferencing or telephone) in March-April of 2020. Understanding patient’s experiences of this transition to telehealth is of critical importance in the event that we experience a second wave of COVID-19 in Western Australia and, more broadly, will contribute to understanding how existing services could be expanded to meet the need of patients with eating disorders who are unable to access face-to-face therapy sessions (e.g., those living in rural or remote locations).
We are interested in assessing the impact of delivering evidence-based eating disorder treatment via telehealth on our patient during this time on factors such as eating disorder symptoms, mood, suicidal and medical risk, therapeutic alliance, and quality of treatment. To do this, we have developed a questionnaire (drawing from the existing literature) to evaluate patients’ experience of receiving telehealth during COVID-19. We will also look at the treatment outcomes for clients during the telehealth sessions using measures they we collect as part of our routine clinical care. In doing so, we hope to look at the trajectory of symptom change during COVID-19, and to compare this to symptom change both before and after COVID-19.
The results will be used to help us figure out how effective delivery treatment for eating disorders via telehealth is, and what the perceived costs and benefits are for the clients receiving this treatment. We can then use this to modify and inform our delivery of treatment via telehealth in the future.
Stay tuned for the outcome of the research, which we hope to be able to publish and to share with our colleagues through local and national mental health conferences. We want to make sure that other eating disorders services around Australia (and the world) can benefit from this knowledge as well.
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