Seek Specialists’ Help for Anorexia

Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are better treated by a specialist

October 23, 2012 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

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(dailyRx News) Anorexia and bulimia are serious medical conditions. Seeking treatment from a qualified and experienced authority can greatly improve outcomes.

A recent study evaluated different approaches to treating eating disorders in 367 teenagers. Results found that specialists had better rates of successful management and lower hospital admissions than non-specialists.

"Seek help for eating disorders."

Ivan Eisler, PhD, and Jennifer House, PhD, from the Department of Psychology in the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College in London, UK, collaborated on an investigation into treating anorexia nervosa.

For the study, 367 13-17 year-olds, both male and female, with either anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or an eating disorder no otherwise specified (EDNOS) were included for analysis.

Each of the participants had either never been through treatment or had not been treated for at least 6 months for an eating disorder.

Both males and females from each eating disorder category were sent to one of three treatment groups:
• 209 went to a specialist eating disorders service
• 73 went to a specialist child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS)
• 85 went to a non-specialist CAMHS

The rate of inpatient admission within 12 months of beginning treatment was 2.5 times higher for those who had started treatment with a non-specialist group, compared to those who had started with a specialist group.

Overall, 42 percent of those who started with a non-specialist treatment group were not referred to specialist or inpatient treatment for those 12 months.

Compared to 80 percent of those who started with a specialist treatment group were at the 12-month mark, referred to continued specialist treatment or inpatient services.

Authors concluded, “Our data suggest that establishing specialist out-patient services to receive and respond promptly to referrals from primary care could lead to improvements in treatment for adolescents with eating disorders and reduce costs by reducing inpatient admissions.”

This study was published in October in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Funding for this research was provided by the National Institute for Health Research (UK). No conflicts of interest were found.

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Review Date: 
October 18, 2012
Last Updated:
December 30, 2013