Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Lancet. 2001 Apr 21;357(9264):1254-7.

Outcome in patients with eating disorders: a 5-year study.

Author information

Clinical Epidemiology and Health Outcomes Unit Flinders Medical Centre, SA 5042, Adelaide, Australia.



Eating disorders are disabling, unpredictable, and difficult to treat. We did a prospective 5-year investigation of a representative sample of patients with eating disorders. Our aim was to identify predictors of outcome and to assess effects of available treatments.


We prospectively investigated 95 patients with anorexia nervosa, 88 with bulimia nervosa, and 37 with eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS), who sought treatment in Adelaide, South Australia. We divided patients into those who had, and had not, received treatment in specialist units and reached a safe body weight. Individuals were then further classified dependent on intensity of any treatment received. We assessed clinical symptoms, body-related attitudes, and psychosocial function.


216 (98%) patients were available for follow-up after 5 years. Three patients with anorexia nervosa and two with EDNOS died. 65 (74%) bulimic, 29 (78%) EDNOS, and 53 (56%) anorexic patients had no diagnosable eating disorder. A small proportion of patients in every group had poor Morgan-Russell-Hayward scores at outcome. Final outcome was predicted by extent and intensity, but not duration, of initial symptoms in patients with anorexia nervosa, and by initial body-related attitudes and impaired psychosocial functioning in bulimia patients. We were unable to predict EDNOS outcome. Treatment did not affect outcome for any group.


Deaths in the study confirm the serious nature of eating disorders. However, our results suggest that the efficacy of existing interventions is questionable.

Comment in

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center