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Eat Disord. 2004 Winter;12(4):303-14.

A randomized controlled study of cognitive behavior therapy and behavioral family therapy for anorexia nervosa patients.

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  • 1School of Psychiatry, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, Australia.


Very few studies have examined the role of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) in the outpatient treatment of anorexia nervosa. This study used a randomized, controlled design to evaluate a 12-month, manual based program of CBT, with behavioral family therapy as the comparison group. Twenty-five adolescents and young adults with anorexia nervosa, currently living with their families, were recruited into the study with both treatment groups receiving 21-25 sessions of therapy. Outcome measures included nutritional status, eating behaviors, mood, self-esteem, and family communication. Sixty percent of the total sample and 72% of treatment completers had "good" outcome (defined as maintaining weight within 10% of average body weight and regular menstrual cycles) at post-treatment and at six months follow-up. No significant differences between treatment groups were found and the majority of patients did not reach symptomatic recovery. While limited by the small sample size, the findings compliment and extend previous research.

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