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Eat Disord. 2005 May-Jun;13(3):231-43.

Characteristics of middle-aged women in inpatient treatment for eating disorders.

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  • 1The Renfrew Center Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19128, USA.


The current study examined descriptive characteristics of women 35 years and older seeking inpatient treatment for an eating disorder. A second purpose was to compare characteristics and treatment experiences of midlife patients to young adult patients. Participants were 193 women admitted for treatment to a residential eating disorders facility. All of the women received the standard inpatient treatment package offered by the treatment facility. Participants completed measures of eating attitudes, depression, anxiety, body image, and media influence at admission and discharge and a program assessment measure at discharge. Results revealed comparable scores on measures of eating attitudes, anxiety, and depression at admission, although younger patients scored significantly higher on measures of body image and media influence at admission. With regard to treatment experience, midlife patients experienced greater change with regard to depression and body image dissatisfaction and described family therapy and grief and loss group therapy as being significantly more helpful than young adult patients. There appears to be a number of similarities across age cohorts in terms of clinical presentation, but underlying causal factors may differ between age groups. In general, midlife patients and young patients describe the standard treatment package as equally helpful, although midlife patients might also benefit from groups addressing grief and loss.

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