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Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2015 May;23(3):210-8. doi: 10.1002/erv.2353. Epub 2015 Mar 16.

Short-term intensive family therapy for adolescent eating disorders: 30-month outcome.

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Department of Neuroscience, University of Turin, Turin, Italy.


Family therapy approaches have generated impressive empirical evidence in the treatment of adolescent eating disorders (EDs). However, the paucity of specialist treatment providers limits treatment uptake; therefore, our group developed the intensive family therapy (IFT)-a 5-day treatment based on the principles of family-based therapy for EDs. We retrospectively examined the long-term efficacy of IFT in both single-family (S-IFT) and multi-family (M-IFT) settings evaluating 74 eating disordered adolescents who underwent IFT at the University of California, San Diego, between 2006 and 2013. Full remission was defined as normal weight (≥ 95% of expected for sex, age, and height), Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q) global score within 1 SD of norms, and absence of binge-purging behaviours. Partial remission was defined as weight ≥ 85% of expected or ≥ 95% but with elevated EDE-Q global score and presence of binge-purging symptoms (<1/week). Over a mean follow-up period of 30 months, 87.8% of participants achieved either full (60.8%) or partial remission (27%), while 12.2% reported a poor outcome, with both S-IFT and M-IFT showing comparable outcomes. Short-term, intensive treatments may be cost-effective and clinically useful where access to regular specialist treatment is limited.


anorexia nervosa; eating disorders; family therapy; intensive family therapy; multi-family therapy

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