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Am J Psychother. 2003;57(2):237-51.

Family-based therapy for adolescents with bulimia nervosa.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago, 5841 S. Maryland Avenue, MC 3077, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Bulimia nervosa is occurring with increasing frequency among adolescents. Yet, no studies have examined effective treatments for this patient population. Involving the family in the treatment of adolescents with anorexia nervosa has proven to be helpful. A small series of cases has demonstrated that family-based treatment might also be beneficial for adolescents with bulimia nervosa. Moreover, treatment studies for adolescents with anorexia nervosa have demonstrated that family-based treatment does benefit binge eating/purging anorexics. Therefore, preliminary evidence seems to support the use of family-based treatment for adolescent bulimia nervosa. In this article, we review our current knowledge of family-based treatment for adolescents with an eating disorder, and present a case that has completed treatment in order to demonstrate the outline and main interventions of this manualized treatment. While this case demonstrates the successful resolution of bulimia in an adolescent female, at least in the short term, the efficacy of family-based treatment for this patient population is yet to be determined, and is currently being examined in a randomized controlled study at The University of Chicago.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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