Question: For adults with any mental health disorder other than Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, how effective is Eye-Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing, compared to any other intervention, for improving patient outcomes?


The evidence on the effectiveness of Eye-Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) for the treatment of mental health conditions other than Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is very limited and derives from very small studies with substantial methodological weaknesses, which have been conducted in a wide variety of different populations.

There is some evidence, from one poor quality trial, that adding EMDR to standard residential treatment may reduce the distress associated with some historical negative body image memories in women with eating disorders, however, it should be noted that EMDR showed no effect on most of the body image outcomes assessed.

There is also some evidence, from two very small, poor quality trials, that EMDR may reduce anxiety symptoms in students with test anxiety.

Finally, the results of one RCT indicated that both EMDR and citalopram may improve the symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder in the short term, with EMDR showing the greater effect, however, the high percentage of dropouts excluded from the analysis make the effect estimates from this study unreliable.

Overall, there is no high quality reliable evidence to support the effectiveness of EMDR in any of the populations considered and more research is needed to ascertain the effectiveness of this intervention in people with mental health disorders other than PTSD.

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