The usefulness of an intervention with a serious video game as a complementary approach to cognitive behavioural therapy in eating disorders: A pilot randomized clinical trial for impulsivity management

Vintró Alcaraz, Cristina
Mallorquí Bagué, Núria
Lozano Madrid, María
Testa, Giulia
Granero, Roser
Sánchez Díaz, Isabel 
Treasure, Janet
Jiménez-Murcia, Susana
Fernández Aranda, Fernando
Objective: The aim of the present study was to test the usefulness of an add-on serious video game approach (i.e., Playmancer) to treatment as usual (TAU) on reducing impulsive behaviours and psychopathology in individuals diagnosed with an eating disorder (ED). Method: Thirty-seven patients diagnosed with an ED according to the DSM-5 were included in the present randomized clinical trial (RCT; study record 35,405 in and were randomly assigned to either the TAU or TAU + Playmancer group. All participants completed a clinical interview. Impulsivity (UPPS-P self reported questionnaire and Stroop task) and general psychopathology (SCL-90-R) measures were assessed at: baseline, 4 weeks into treatment, at the end of TAU (after 16 weeks), and follow-up (2 years). In addition, patients in the experimental group underwent a total of nine sessions with Playmancer over the span of 3 weeks. Results: Patients in both treatment groups (TAU + Playmancer or TAU) improved on Stroop task performance and psychological distress. Additionally, patients in TAU-Playmancer improved on the impulsive trait domain of lack of perseverance. No statistical differences were found regarding treatment outcomes (i.e., treatment adherence and remission of eating symptomatology) when comparing the two treatment groups. Conclusion: Our results suggest that the impulsivity associated with EDs should be addressed and could be modified, as some facets of trait impulsivity improved after Playmancer add-on treatment. Yet, there were no significant differences in treatment outcomes when comparing the two groups and further research needs to be conducted ​
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