Award for research in the field of the binge-eating disorder

The “Best Student Abstract Award” was awarded to the 28 year-old psychologist and IFB researcher Dr. Anne Brauhardt by the major international professional society for the study of eating disorders (Eating Disorders Research Society, EDRS in the USA).

The binge-eating disorder (BED) belongs to the most frequent eating disorders. Nearly one third of obese patients suffer from BED. (Photo: iStock/DrGrounds)
Dr. Anne Brauhardt with the "Best Student Abstract Award" of the Eating Disorder Research Society in October 2014. (Photo: IFB Adiposity)

The prize was awarded on October 11, 2014 at the annual meeting of the EDRS in San Diego and honored Dr. Brauhardt’s scientific work in her dissertation. She mainly examined the therapeutic adherence of psychotherapists to the manual for cognitive-behavioral therapy of the binge-eating disorder. She did this within a multicenter study (INTERBED study).

An interesting result of her research was, that there are significant differences between the therapists despite of exact manual guidelines, of recurrent exercises, and regular email feedbacks referring to the sessions of the therapists. It also became clear that the manual adherence has a significant impact on the quality of the relationship between therapist and patient.

Dr. Brauhardt said about the prize: “I was surprised about the announcement that my work was chosen by such a high-ranking committee like the EDRS. It is a special honor for me.” The young scientist describes her interest in research in the following way: “Since my diploma thesis and later my dissertation I’m especially concerned with the topic binge-eating disorder (BED). Since one third of the patients with that eating disorder have also a BMI in the area of overweight or obesity, the BED is an important diagnosis and in the treatment of obesity at the IFB. An effective therapy of BED is crucial, and there is reliable evidence for the efficacy of psychotherapy. Yet, about the therapeutic process and its influence on the therapy success is not much known so far.”

Another significant result of her research is, that focused and longer trainings of therapists can be advisable to prevent potential deviations from the therapy manual. Only a close adherence to the manual ensures that the containing treatment procedures lead to an improvement in the patient’s symptoms. Also other low-threshold treatment option, e. g. the web-based self-help, can be useful. A large obstacle in the treatment of the BED is that the affected people initially have to admit the problem and search for therapeutic help. However, there is still a lack of specific therapy options for the BED in Germany.

A prerequisite for the Best Student Abstract Award of the EDRS is that the candidates are working on their doctorate in a professional, postgraduate or medical programme at the time of the abstract submission. That was the case for Anne Brauhardt. In the meantime, she got the doctoral degree by the Department of Psychology at the Phillips-Universität Marburg and her paper on her research has been published (1). Further important publications of Dr. Brauhardt are two methodical reviews on state of the art in psychotherapy process research and its influences on the success of psychotherapy in eating disorders (2) and a paper about the influences of stigmatization and self-esteem as basis of binge eating disorder (3).

The Eating Disorder Research Society is an association of experts. A membership in the EDRS requires significant research activity and distinct contributions to scientific literature (at least 5 publications). The annual meeting of the EDRS is one of the most important meetings of internationally recognized personalities in this research area to present and discuss the latest results. Prof.  Anja Hilbert, head of the research area Behavioral Medicine at the IFB AidposityDiseases, promotes the work of Anne Brauhardt and introduced her to the EDRS. Dr. Brauhardt presented her results at the 20th annual meeting of the EDRS.

Highlights of the meeting were the contributions of internationally outstanding psychotherapy scientists like Alan Kazdin from the Yale University (USA) about dissemination of evidence based psychotherapy and Helena Kraemer from the Stanford  University (USA) about statistic problems in the evaluation of results in psychotherapy studies.


(1) Brauhardt, Anne; de Zwaan, Martina; Herpertz, Stephan; Zipfel, Stephan, Svaldi, Jennifer; Friedrich, Hans-Christoph, Hilbert, Anja: Therapist adherence in individual cognitive-behavioral thearpy for binge-eating disorder: Assessment, course, and predictors“.Behaviour Research and Therapy, Volume 61, October 2014, Pages 55–60   DOI: 10.1016/j.brat.2014.07.014

(2) Brauhardt, A., de Zwaan, M. and Hilbert, A. (2014), The therapeutic process in psychological treatments for eating disorders: A systematic review. Int. J. Eat. Disord., 47: 565–584. doi: 10.1002/eat.22287  
Englisch: (

(3) Brauhardt, Anne; Rudolph, Almut; Hilbert, Anja. Implicit cognitive processes in binge-eating disorder and obesity. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, Volume 45, Issue 2, June 2014, pages 285-290.  DOI: 10.1016/j.jbtep.2014.01.001

Keywords: eating disorders, IFB-research

Doris Gabel