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Patterns and predictors of recovery in anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

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  • 1Harvard Medical School.



The purpose of this study was to assess the course and outcome of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa at 1 year in a large cohort of women with eating disorders.


A prospective, naturalistic, longitudinal design was used to map the course of 225 women with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and mixed anorexia and bulimia nervosa. Structured interviews were conducted quarterly. Follow-up data are presented in terms of patterns of recovery, clinical features predictive of time to recovery, and the role of comorbid disorders as fixed predictors.


The recovery rate of bulimics was significantly better than that of anorexic or mixed subjects, yet nearly half the anorexic and mixed subjects no longer met full DSM-III-R criteria for at least 8 consecutive weeks during the first year of follow-up. Percent ideal body weight and type of eating disorder were significantly associated with outcome.


Our findings suggest that the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa has severe implications.

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