Exploring effectiveness of CBT in obese patients with binge eating disorder: personality functioning is associated with clinically significant change

Laura van Riel*, Elske van den Berg, Marike Polak, Marjolein Geerts, Jaap Peen, Theo Ingenhoven, Jack Dekker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Binge eating disorder (BED), as the most prevalent eating disorder, is strongly related to obesity and other somatic and psychiatric morbidity. Despite evidence-based treatments a considerable number of BED patients fail to recover. There is preliminary evidence for the association between psychodynamic personality functioning and personality traits on treatment outcome. However, research is limited and results are still contradictory. Identifying variables associated with treatment outcome could improve treatment programs. The aim of the study was to explore whether personality functioning or personality traits are associated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) outcome in obese female patients with BED or subthreshold BED. Methods: Eating disorder symptoms and clinical variables were assessed in 168 obese female patients with DSM-5 BED or subthreshold BED, referred to a 6-month outpatient CBT program in a pre-post measurement design. Personality functioning was assessed by the Developmental Profile Inventory (DPI), personality traits by the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI). Treatment outcome was assessed by the Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire (EDE-Q) global score and self-reported binge eating frequency. According to the criteria of clinical significance, 140 treatment completers were categorized in four outcome groups (recovered, improved, unchanged, deteriorated). Results: EDE-Q global scores, self-reported binge eating frequency and BMI significantly decreased during CBT, where 44.3% of patients showed clinically significant change in EDE-Q global score. Treatment outcome groups showed significant overall differences on the DPI Resistance and Dependence scales and the aggregated ‘neurotic’ scale. Significant overall differences were found between groups on TCI Harm avoidance, although post hoc t-tests were non-significant. Furthermore, multiple logistic regression analysis, controlling for mild to moderate depressive disorder and TCI harm avoidance showed that ‘neurotic’ personality functioning was a significant negative predictor of clinically significant change. Conclusion: Maladaptive (‘neurotic’) personality functioning is significantly associated with a less favorable outcome after CBT in patients with binge eating. Moreover, ‘neurotic’ personality functioning is a predictor of clinically significant change. Assessment of personality functioning and personality traits could support indication for more specified or augmented care, tailored towards the patients’ individual strengths and vulnerabilities. Trial registration: This study protocol was retrospectively evaluated and approved on 16-06-2022 by the Medical Ethical Review Committee (METC) of the Amsterdam Medical Centre (AMC). Reference number W22_219#22.271.

Original languageEnglish
Article number136
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research project was funded by Novarum and the NPI, departments of Arkin Mental Health Care, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).

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