Perspectives on psychedelic treatment and research in eating disorders: a web-based questionnaire study of people with eating disorders

This survey study (n=200) examined the views of people with eating disorders (EDs) with regards to psychedelic therapy. Over half of the respondents said they would take part in psychedelic research while 60% believed it is worthwhile continuing research in this area. Respondents agreed that education is needed surrounding psychedelics and that therapy should take place in a professional setting.

Abstract

“Approximately 1.25 million people in the UK suffer from an eating disorder, yet the treatment options show limited efficacy, warranting the need for novel approaches. This study aimed to investigate the perspectives of people with eating disorders on the use of complementary therapies and psychedelic research and treatment. Two hundred participants with eating disorders took part in this web survey study. The majority of participants (70%) had used a complementary treatment to manage their eating disorder. Participants believed that psychedelic research was worthwhile in the context of a moderate level of concern. The most popular solutions to meet these concerns included providing education around psychedelics and their effects and use in psychiatry and experiencing endorsement from professionals in the area. Moreover, participant responses emphasized the need for a safe, monitored environment and the patient-therapist rapport in the context of psychedelic treatment. The findings are explored concerning future trials of psychedelics as a treatment for eating disorders.”

Authors: Fiona Harding, Mathieu Seynaeve, Johana Keeler, Hubertus Himmerich, Janet Treasure & Carol Kan

Notes

Whether or not psychedelic-assisted therapies can be used to treat eating disorders remains to be seen. Research into this particular area of psychedelic science is a relatively novel phenomenon. Nonetheless, pilot studies exploring the safety and efficacy of psychedelics for treating eating disorders are underway in institutions such as Johns Hopkins and Imperial College. As research in this field progresses, it is important that the thoughts of the people living with eating disorders are taken into account. Therefore, this survey study asked 200 people living with eating disorders in the UK for their thoughts and opinions on psychedelic-assisted therapies as potential treatment options.

The main findings:

  • 70% of respondents had used a complementary therapy such as yoga to help manage their eating disorder.
  • Half of the respondents said they would be willing to partake in psychedelic research, while 60% said it is worth pursuing research in this area.
  • The majority emphasized the need for a safe, controlled and professional setting during psychedelic treatments.
  • Respondents agreed that education regarding psychedelic’s and their use in psychiatry is needed.

This study is the first study to date examining the views of people with eating disorders with regards to psychedelics. While the results are mostly positive, similar studies are needed in order to gain the patients perspective on psychedelic’s therapies. With pilot studies nearing completion, the findings of survey studies can be hugely beneficial when designing Phase II trials.

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Study details

Topics studied
Eating Disorders

Study characteristics
Survey

Participants
200 Humans

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