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Panminerva Med. 2004 Sep;46(3):189-98.

Psychological treatment of eating disorders. A review of the literature.

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  • 1Psychiatry Unit, Department of Neurosciences, University of Turin, Center for Food Behaviour Disorders, Amedeo di Savoia Hospital, Turin, Italy. fassinoedcentre@hotmail.com


The aim of this study is to review the existing literature (PubMed database) on the psychological treatments for eating disorders (EDs), subdivided in individual, group and family therapies. Moreover new approaches and directions in this field are addressed. An extensive literature review is performed to identify the psychological treatment trials in anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) published over the past 2 decades. Eighty-two studies focused on psychotherapeutic treatment of EDs are reviewed. Only a minor part of these studies are randomised and controlled. While there is evidence of the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), this is still missing for other psychotherapeutic approaches. However, there is general agreement about the importance of psychotherapy in multimodal treatments. There is still a need for a shared concept of outcome in EDs, since the efficacy of psychological treatment is greatly influenced by the definition of outcome adopted (concerning symptoms, psychosocial functioning, personality).

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