Christopher Fairburn

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Christopher G. Fairburn
Born (1950-09-20) 20 September 1950 (age 68)
EducationMalvern College
Alma materUniversity of Oxford (MA, BM, BCh, DM)
University of Edinburgh (MPhil)
Known forNature and treatment of eating disorders
Transdiagnostic conceptualisation of eating disorders
Guided self-help
Measures of eating disorder features
AwardsWellcome Senior Lecturer 1984, 1987, 1990
Wellcome Principal Research Fellow 1996, 2006
Royal College of Psychiatrists Fellow, 1992
Academy of Medical Sciences Fellow, 2001
Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford) – Fellow, 1989, 1998
Academy for Eating Disorders - Outstanding Researcher Prize, 2002; Lifetime Achievement Award, 2015
Academy of Cognitive Therapy – Beck Prize 2011
Scientific career
FieldsMental Health
InfluencesRobert Kendell, Michael Gelder

Christopher G Fairburn is a British psychiatrist and researcher. He is Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford. He is known for his research on the development, evaluation and dissemination of psychological treatments, especially for eating disorders.


Fairburn was educated at Malvern College. He trained in medicine at the University of Oxford, and in psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh[1].


Fairburn has been engaged in full-time clinical research since 1981, initially funded by the Medical Research Council and subsequently by the Wellcome Trust (1984-2017)[2]. Between 2007 and 2011, Fairburn was a Governor of the Wellcome Trust,[3] and from 2011 to 2016, he was a founder trustee of MQ: Transforming Mental Health.[4]


Eating disorders[edit]

Fairburn’s programme of work has led to the development of three treatments for eating disorders. The first is a cognitive behavioural treatment for bulimia nervosa[5]. This was the first psychological treatment to be endorsed by England’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)[6]. The second is a self-help treatment for people with recurrent binge eating[7]. This is designed to be used either on its own or accompanied by a scalable form of support termed "guided self-help"[8]. Guided self-help has been endorsed by NICE as the first step in the treatment of binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa[9] and is used in the treatment of many other mental disorders[10]. The third treatment is transdiagnostic in its clinical range and is termed “enhanced cognitive behaviour therapy” or CBT-E[11]. In 2015 NHS England and the Chief Medical Officer recommended that this treatment be made available for all patients with an eating disorder, whatever their eating disorder diagnosis and whatever their age[12][13], and in 2017 it was endorsed by NICE.

Digital technology and the dissemination of psychological treatments[edit]

Fairburn is working on the conversion of therapist-delivered psychological treatments into scalable digital interventions, either delivered on their own or with remote support[14]. Fairburn has also developed a digital method for training therapists. This is capable of simultaneously training large numbers of geographically dispersed therapists[15]. Fairburn is collaborating with Vikram Patel and colleagues in India who are developing psychological interventions for common mental disorders suitable for delivery by lay counsellors[16].

Measures of eating disorder features[edit]

Fairburn has developed several measures of eating disorder features and their effects. These include the Eating Disorder Examination (EDE)[17], the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q)[18] and the Clinical Impairment Assessment (CIA)[19]. These are in widespread use and are available in multiple languages.


  1. ^ "FAIRBURN, Prof. Christopher Granville". Who's Who. 2018. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U2000176.
  2. ^ Wellcome. "Principal Research Fellowships: People we've funded". Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  3. ^ Wellcome Trust Annual Report and Financial Statements, 2011
  4. ^ "Trustees". MQ: Transforming Mental Health. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  5. ^ Fairburn, Christopher (1981). "A cognitive behavioural approach to the treatment of bulimia". Psychological Medicine. 11 (4): 707–711. doi:10.1017/S0033291700041209. ISSN 0033-2917.
  6. ^ NICE (2004). Eating Disorders: Core interventions in the treatment and management of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and related eating disorders. London: Royal College of Psychiatrists and British Psychological Society.
  7. ^ Fairburn, Christopher (2013). Overcoming binge eating (2 ed.). New York: The Guilford Press.
  8. ^ Carter, JC; Fairburn, CG (1 November 1995). "Treating binge eating problems in primary care". Addictive Behaviors. 20 (6): 765–772. doi:10.1016/0306-4603(95)00096-8. ISSN 0306-4603. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  9. ^ National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2017). Eating disorders: recognition and treatment | Guidance and guidelines | NICE. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  10. ^ "guided self help | Evidence search | NICE". Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  11. ^ Fairburn, CG; Cooper, Z; Shafran, R (1 May 2003). "Cognitive behaviour therapy for eating disorders: a "transdiagnostic" theory and treatment". Behaviour Research and Therapy. 41 (5): 509–528. doi:10.1016/S0005-7967(02)00088-8. ISSN 0005-7967.
  12. ^ National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (2015). Eating Disorders: Access and Waiting Time Standard for Children and Young People with an Eating Disorder. London: NHS England. p. 25.
  13. ^ Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer (2014). The Health of the 51%: Women. London: Department of Health. p. 11.
  14. ^ Fairburn, CG; Patel, V (1 January 2017). "The impact of digital technology on psychological treatments and their dissemination". Behaviour Research and Therapy. 88: 19–25. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2016.08.012. ISSN 0005-7967. PMC 5214969. PMID 28110672.
  15. ^ Fairburn, Christopher G; Allen, Elizabeth; Bailey-Straebler, Suzanne; O'Connor, Marianne E; Cooper, Zafra (16 June 2017). "Scaling Up Psychological Treatments: A Countrywide Test of the Online Training of Therapists". Journal of Medical Internet Research. 19 (6): e214. doi:10.2196/jmir.7864. PMC 5493785. PMID 28623184.
  16. ^ Fairburn, Christopher G.; Kirkwood, Betty R.; Velleman, Richard; Wilson, Terry; McDaid, David; Park, A.-La; Vijayakumar, Lakshmi; King, Michael; Hollon, Steve D.; Araya, Ricardo; Dimidjian, Sona; Katti, Basavraj; Bhat, Bhargav; Anand, Arpita; Weiss, Helen A.; Weobong, Benedict; Patel, Vikram (14 January 2017). "The Healthy Activity Program (HAP), a lay counsellor-delivered brief psychological treatment for severe depression, in primary care in India: a randomised controlled trial". The Lancet. 389 (10065): 176–185. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(16)31589-6. ISSN 1474-547X. PMC 5236064. PMID 27988143. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  17. ^ Cooper, Z; Fairburn, CG (1987). "The Eating Disorder Examination: a semi-structured interview for the assessment of the specific psychopathology of eating disorders". International Journal of Eating Disorders. 6: 1–8. doi:10.1002/1098-108X(198701)6:1<1::AID-EAT2260060102>3.0.CO;2-9.
  18. ^ Fairburn, CG; Beglin, SJ (1994). "Assessment of eating disorder psychopathology: interview or self-report questionnaire?". International Journal of Eating Disorders. 16: 363–370. doi:10.1002/1098-108X(199412)16:4<363::AID-EAT2260160405>3.0.CO;2-# (inactive 2019-02-16). Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  19. ^ Bohn, K; Doll, HA; Cooper, Z; O'Connor, ME; Fairburn, CG (1 October 2008). "The measurement of impairment due to eating disorder psychopathology". Behaviour Research and Therapy. 46 (10): 1105–1110. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2008.06.012. ISSN 0005-7967. PMC 2764385. PMID 18710699.

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