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Clin Psychol Psychother. 2012 Jan-Feb;19(1):1-13. doi: 10.1002/cpp.738. Epub 2011 Feb 11.

Treatment of chronic anorexia nervosa: a 4-year follow-up of adult patients treated in an acute inpatient setting.

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  • 1St Andrew's Academic Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, London, UK.


Despite evidence from a number of long-term follow-up studies of anorexia nervosa that nearly 50% of patients eventually make a full recovery, controlled trials of psychotherapy for anorexia nervosa are lacking. Those with severe and enduring problems represent a considerable therapeutic challenge. Thirty-four consecutive adult referrals to the inpatient treatment unit who fulfilled Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa were examined pre-admission, post-discharge and 4 years after admission. Characteristics of remitted and non-remitted patients were examined. Secondary analyses considered the differences between patients with anorexia nervosa, restricting type and anorexia nervosa binging/purging type. The findings highlight a number of differences between patients with anorexia nervosa (restricting type) versus anorexia nervosa (binging/purging type) as well as remitted versus non-remitted patients. The use of a comprehensive battery of assessments found that resolution of eating disorder symptomatology was paralleled by improvements in emotional and psychological distress and improvement in body image perception and coping skills. Better results were obtained for those who had continuity of care on an outpatient basis. This pattern is particularly significant given the more 'chronic' nature of the sample that were older, with a higher incidence of binge-eating and purging than previous samples. Results provide some encouragement for the treatment of those adults with anorexia nervosa who typically have less favourable outcomes. 

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