‘My Dad was Like “It’s Your Brain, What Are You Doing?”‘: Participant Experiences of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Treatment in Severe Enduring Anorexia Nervosa

SOURCE: European Eating Disorders Review. 30(3):237-249, 2022 May.

AUTHORS: Dalton B; Austin A; Ching BCF; Potterton R; McClelland J; Bartholdy S;
Kekic M; Campbell IC; Schmidt U

OBJECTIVE: Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a promising emerging treatment for anorexia nervosa (AN). However, to date, patients’ views and experiences of this treatment have not been fully explored. To assess these, we integrated a qualitative study into a feasibility randomised controlled trial of rTMS in individuals with severe enduring AN.

METHOD: Twenty-nine (of 34) trial participants contributed to this study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted 3-months following the completion of rTMS treatment (4-months post-randomisation), prior to unblinding. Transcripts were analysed using content analysis.

RESULTS: rTMS was deemed an acceptable but time-consuming treatment. Many
emphasised how their lives had changed to some extent during, but mainly after treatment by making them more positive, open-minded, flexible and willing to try new things in relation to their AN and other aspects of their lives.

CONCLUSIONS: These qualitative data will be valuable in shaping participant information, recruitment and planning of future large-scale trials of rTMS in AN.