|Researcher studies effectiveness of distance therapy|
The Neuropsychiatric Research Institute (NRI) in Fargo has received a major grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue a project aimed at helping patients in rural areas who suffer from eating disorders. James Mitchell, Fargo, will lead the study. He is president of NRI and chair and professor of clinical neuroscience at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
The project, using telemedicine, allows patients to receive psychotherapy treatment that is not available in their home communities, Mitchell said.
He and his colleagues recently completed a study that shows this type of distance technology, "televised cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)," is as effective as therapy provided in person.
The researchers compared CBT delivered via telemedicine and CBT delivered in person, involving patients in rural and smaller urban areas in North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota, Mitchell said. The two methods "were equally effective and acceptable to patients, with good maintenance of treatment effects at one-year follow-up."
The new five-year grant, totaling $2.5 million from NIH's National Institute of Mental Health, funds an effort to deliver CBT to patients with bulimia nervosa in rural settings via telemedicine. It supports researchers' efforts to compare variations in telemedicine-delivered CBT to unsupervised self-help.
"This additional study allows us to pursue our goal of developing delivery systems for effective and cost-effective intervention for patients in rural areas, where specialized treatments are usually not available," Mitchell said.
Bulimia nervosa (BN) is a prevalent form of eating disorder among late adolescent and young adult women, he said. Most practicing psychotherapists who treat patients with BN have not been adequately trained to deliver the care that has emerged as a recommended standard.
"Therefore, there appears to be a growing discrepancy between what is being used experimentally in academic centers and recommended by researchers in the field, and what is available in the community," he said.
Internationally recognized for his work in eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and obesity, Mitchell is the author of numerous books in his field of study and has written extensively for publication in scientific journals.
The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Mitchell was named in 2003 as a McCann Scholar, a prestigious honor given to a select few outstanding mentors in medicine in the United States. At UND, he holds the Lee Christoferson, M.D./Neuropsychiatric Research Institute (NRI) Chair in Neuroscience and the Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorship. The latter is the highest faculty honor bestowed by UND.
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