Condition category
Mental and Behavioural Disorders
Date applied
Date assigned
Last edited
Retrospectively registered
Overall trial status
Recruitment status
No longer recruiting

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims
People with Eating Disorders (EDs) have socio-emotional difficulties. In particular, they show a bias towards negative information about the self and others’ attitudes. Previous studies from our unit found an attentional bias towards critical and angry faces, and lower implicit self-esteem and self-compassion in EDs than healthy subjects. A computerized training programme has been developed that aims to modify negative cognitive bias to social and self-relevant stimuli. The aim of this study is to test the acceptability and impact of this programme on clinical symptoms, interpersonal functioning (between self and others), and self-evaluation in patients with EDs.

Who can participate?
Participants suffering from an eating disorder can participate in this study.

What does the study involve?
Participants will meet the researcher four times, on four different days, over the course of 7-10 days. During the first day (baseline; 60 min), subjects will complete a set of questionnaires. Then, participants will randomly allocated to one of four groups:
1. Attentional Bias intervention (experimental) group
2. Attentional Bias control group
3. Self-Esteem intervention (experimental) group
4. Self-Esteem control group.
The experimental groups will receive computerized training (training session 1 - day 2; training session 2 - day 3; training session 3 - day 4) to develop a bias towards others (module 1) and self-related positive information (module 2). Participants in the control groups receive a different version of the training, where both positive and negative information are presented. At the end of the last training session (day 4), all participants will complete follow-up measures of clinical symptoms, implicit and explicit self-esteem, interpersonal functioning, vigilance to social stimuli and interpretation of social situations (45 min). Participants in the control group will be offered the intervention at this stage.

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
We hope that this intervention will be associated with a reduction of negative bias towards self- and others-related information and with improved self-esteem and social functioning in people with eating disorders. We also hope this intervention will be associated with a reduction of the eating disorders symptoms.
The study will be testing participants with eating disorders who may be considered as at risk. They may experience mild distress or discomfort in completing some of the questionnaires because of the topics investigated (i.e., symptoms associated with the eating disorder). Also, participants may find it somewhat stressful to be involved in the study for a relatively long period of time (about 1 month).
Throughout the study, precautions will be made to ensure that the participants are as protected as possible. If interested in taking part in the study, participants will be able to contact the researcher directly by email or telephone, to schedule an appointment with them. Otherwise, they could choose to let their consultant or primary nurse on the site know so that they contact the researcher by email or phone for the patient to schedule an appointment with them. During the face-to-face meeting with the researcher, the patient will be able to discuss the details of the project. Before agreeing to sign the consent form, the researcher will review the information sheet with the participant, offering them the opportunity to ask questions, and will remind the participant that they are free to withdraw at any time without having to specify a reason. During the screening phase, participants will be interviewed to understand whether they are eligible to take part. While completing the questionnaire materials, participants will be invited to take breaks as needed. Participants will also be invited to express the reasons for their distress so that they can be provided with additional guidance and support to address these issues. They will be reassured and reminded that they can withdraw from the study at any point. In case this reassurance is not sufficient to alleviate participant distress, they will then be asked to speak with Prof. Treasure, who has several years of experience working with people with Eating Disorders.

Where is the study run from?
The study sessions with volunteers from the local community will take place at King’s College London. The study sessions with outpatients and inpatients will take place at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
The study started in October 2013 and will run for 2 years.

Who is funding the study?
The Psychiatry Research Trust, UK.

Who is the main contact?
Dr Valentina Cardi,
Miss Charlotte Rhind,
Prof. Janet Treasure,

Trial website

Contact information



Primary contact

Prof Janet Treasure


Contact details

The Basement
103 Denmark Hill
United Kingdom
+44 (0)20 7848 5978

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number number

Protocol/serial number


Study information

Scientific title

Cognitive bias modification training in eating disorders: a pilot study


Study hypothesis

The computerised training developed will reduce the cognitive bias towards negative social and self-relevant stimuli.

Ethics approval

Camberwell and St Giles Research Ethics Committee (London), approved 22/11/2013, amendment approved 02/05/2014, REC ref: 13/LO/1492

Study design

Pilot feasibility multicentre study

Primary study design


Secondary study design

Randomised controlled trial

Trial setting


Trial type


Patient information sheet

Not available in web format, please use the contact details below to request a patient information sheet


Eating Disorders


Participants will be randomly allocated to one of four groups. Each of the four modules will entail four sessions (about 30 min/each).
1. Attentional Bias intervention (experimental) group
2. Attentional Bias control group
3. Self-Esteem intervention (experimental) group
4. Self-Esteem control group.
They will meet the researcher four times, on four different occasions (in 1 week/10 day-time). Together, the two modules comprise a full cognitive bias modification programme; they are divided into two modules to minimise the burden on patients and to keep the experimental sessions brief for the purpose of this pilot study.
During the first session (session 1; 40 min) participants will complete the baseline questionnaires and computerized tasks. During sessions 2 and 3 they will receive two training or placebo sessions (30 min in study 1; 15 min in study 2). During session 4 participants will receive the last session of training or placebo and will complete the follow-up questionnaires and computerized tasks (45 min). At the end of the study participants in the placebo group will be offered the intervention.
A follow-up will be conducted 30 days after the end of the project. Participants will receive some questionnaires and a brief structured phone interview to evaluate eating disorders and mood symptoms, interpersonal functioning, and self-esteem.

Intervention type



Not Applicable

Drug names

Primary outcome measures

1. Acceptability and feasibility of the computerised training developed (qualitative feedback – to be collected during the last study session)
2. Reduction of the negative bias towards social and self-related information (computerised tasks – to be completed during the last study session)

Secondary outcome measures

An improvement of socio-emotional functioning and reduction of eating disorders symptoms (questionnaires – to be completed during the last study session)

Overall trial start date


Overall trial end date


Reason abandoned


Participant inclusion criteria

1. Diagnosis of eating disorders (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, subclinical anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa; binge eating disorder)
2. Fluency in English
3. No visual impairment
4. No cognitive impairment
5. No drugs or alcohol abuse

Participant type


Age group




Target number of participants


Participant exclusion criteria

1. No English language fluency
2. Visual impairment
3. Drug or alcohol abuse
4. Cognitive impairment

Recruitment start date


Recruitment end date



Countries of recruitment

United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

The Basement
United Kingdom

Sponsor information


King's College London (UK)

Sponsor details

Room 1.8 Hodgkin Building
Guy's Campus
United Kingdom
+44 (0)20 7848 6960

Sponsor type




Funder type

Research organisation

Funder name

Psychiatry Research Trust (UK)

Alternative name(s)

Funding Body Type

Funding Body Subtype


Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

Not provided at time of registration

Intention to publish date

Participant level data

Not provided at time of registration

Results - basic reporting

Publication summary

Publication citations

Additional files

Editorial Notes