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Eat Weight Disord. 2009 Jun-Sep;14(2-3):e31-41.

Day hospital programmes for eating disorders: a review of the similarities, differences and goals.

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  • 1Eating Disorders Centre, Neurosciences Department, University of Turin, Turin, Italy.


Day hospital (DH) treatments for eating disorders (EDs) provide intensive daily care and allow patients to maintain and test their social relations and coping skills at home and outside. Although widespread, their description is lacking. This review compares the different types of DH described in the literature and presents our DH experience in Turin, Italy. We searched Psychinfo and Pubmed with the following keywords: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, EDs, DH, day treatment and partial hospitalisation. We found and reviewed the DH programmes of eleven specialised centres, which have some shared features but also many differences, suggesting that DH treatments are still largely experimental. Briefly, the shared elements are: biopsychosocial model as reference frame; cognitive-behavioural model or techniques; behavioural contract; patients' selection; body image therapy; involvement of family; weight normalisation/weight gain and modification/normalisation of eating behaviour as objectives. Nonetheless, shared opinions concerning inclusion criteria are lacking; the duration of DH treatment is surprisingly different among centres (from 3 to 39 weeks); the approach to eating and compensation behaviours ranges from control to autonomy; followup and psychometric assessment can be either performed or not; psychological and behavioural objectives can be different. This review suggests the existence of two different DH models: the first has a shorter duration and is mainly symptom-focused; the second is more individual-focused, has a longer duration and is focused on patients' relational skills, psychodynamic understanding of symptoms and more gradual changes in body weight. Further investigation is required to make DH treatment programmes measurable and comparable.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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