Neuromodulation techniques, such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and deep brain stimulation (DBS), are emerging as promising treatment options in eating disorders (EDs). To date, the views of ED clinicians regarding these interventions have not been explored.
Eighteen clinicians were recruited from a specialist ED Service in London, UK. Following a short educational presentation on rTMS, tDCS and DBS, they completed a semi-structured interview to explore their views on the use of these treatment options in EDs.
Clinician knowledge of neuromodulation techniques was low. They raised safety and ethical (particularly capacity to consent) concerns mainly with regard to DBS. Neuromodulation treatments were considered most appropriate as an adjunct to psychotherapy and for patients with severe, enduring illness (who had completed previous psychological treatments).
Improving clinicians’ knowledge and understanding of neuromodulation is fundamental for bridging the gap between research and clinical work. This is especially so given the predominance of psychological theory and practice in the treatment of EDs.