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Open Access Publications from the University of California

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

  • Author(s): Marzola, Enrica
  • Knatz, Stephanie
  • Murray, Stuart B
  • Rockwell, Roxanne
  • Boutelle, Kerri
  • Eisler, Ivan
  • Kaye, Walter H
  • et al.

Published Web Location Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license

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.

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