Patients with eating disorders who underwent an integrated yet individualized treatment protocol significantly improved not only in the eating disorder illness, but across a range of areas, including decreases in depression and anxiety, according to research presented at the American Psychiatric Association’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans.
The study was conducted in a large integrated private group practice that addressed eating disorders and comorbid conditions simultaneously, using both verbal and non-verbal treatments such as art therapy in both outpatient and residential settings. A multidisciplinary team provided patients with integrated individual and group therapy, psychoeducuation, nutritional counseling, and medication.
The research poster, Effectiveness of Eating Disorder Treatment in Real World Settings: Comprehensive Assessment and Outcome (#NR7-37), was presented on Wednesday, May 26, at the APA Annual Meeting.
The study integrated comprehensive initial and outcome assessments of eating disorder symptoms, anxiety and depression, life functioning, and eating behavior into private practice. Study participants showed significant improvement in eating disorder scales, significant decrease in anxiety and depression scores, and improvement in overall- and within-family-functioning.
Dramatic improvements with the flexible treatment model were statistically and clinically significant across a range of psychosocial areas, the researchers concluded.
Researchers also identified variables that predict dropout risk, including the long duration of the eating disorder illness and an external locus of control, or a belief that events in their lives are controlled by external forces. “The greatest potential to further increase patient benefit in the future will be realized by keeping dropouts in treatment,” the researchers concluded. “There is reason for hope: eating disorders do actually respond to treatment, outcome benefits can be measured, as demonstrated in our study.”