Psychological Medicine

Original Articles

Rapid response predicts 12-month post-treatment outcomes in binge-eating disorder: theoretical and clinical implications

C. M. Griloa1 c1, M. A. Whitea1, G. T. Wilsona2, R. Gueorguievaa3 and R. M. Masheba1

a1 Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA

a2 Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, Rutgers – The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ, USA

a3 Division of Biostatistics, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT, USA


Background We examined rapid response in obese patients with binge-eating disorder (BED) in a clinical trial testing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and behavioral weight loss (BWL).

Method Altogether, 90 participants were randomly assigned to CBT or BWL. Assessments were performed at baseline, throughout and post-treatment and at 6- and 12-month follow-ups. Rapid response, defined as ≥70% reduction in binge eating by week four, was determined by receiver operating characteristic curves and used to predict outcomes.

Results Rapid response characterized 57% of participants (67% of CBT, 47% of BWL) and was unrelated to most baseline variables. Rapid response predicted greater improvements across outcomes but had different prognostic significance and distinct time courses for CBT versus BWL. Patients receiving CBT did comparably well regardless of rapid response in terms of reduced binge eating and eating disorder psychopathology but did not achieve weight loss. Among patients receiving BWL, those without rapid response failed to improve further. However, those with rapid response were significantly more likely to achieve binge-eating remission (62% v. 13%) and greater reductions in binge-eating frequency, eating disorder psychopathology and weight loss.

Conclusions Rapid response to treatment in BED has prognostic significance through 12-month follow-up, provides evidence for treatment specificity and has clinical implications for stepped-care treatment models for BED. Rapid responders who receive BWL benefit in terms of both binge eating and short-term weight loss. Collectively, these findings suggest that BWL might be a candidate for initial intervention in stepped-care models with an evaluation of progress after 1 month to identify non-rapid responders who could be advised to consider a switch to a specialized treatment.

(Received March 18 2011)

(Revised August 10 2011)

(Accepted August 15 2011)

(Online publication September 16 2011)


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr C. M. Grilo, Yale University School of Medicine, 301 Cedar Street (2nd Floor), New Haven, CT 06519, USA. (Email: