Inpatient treatment has no impact on the core thoughts and perceptions in adolescents with anorexia nervosa.Early Interv Psychiatry. 2017 06; 11(3):200-207.EI
Examine changes in core perceptions and thoughts during the weight restoration phase of inpatient treatment for adolescents with anorexia nervosa.
Forty-four adolescents with anorexia nervosa consecutively admitted (2009-2012) to an inpatient paediatric-psychiatric unit specializing in eating disorders. The programme consisted of a complete inpatient intervention combining weight restoration by structured supervised meals with individual and group cognitive-behavioural therapy, parental training/family intervention and educational activities, followed by a half-way day-treatment weight-stabilizing phase and progressive reintroduction to the community. The study focused on changes from hospital admission to discharge in patients' responses to self-report questionnaires on eating disorder symptoms, depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation.
No significant changes in core anorexic thoughts and perceptions as Body dissatisfaction, Drive for thinness, Weight concern and Shape concern were noted. However, a reduction in the general severity of eating disorder symptoms (including Restraint and Eating concern) was observed, mainly related to the treatment structure. Levels of depression significantly decreased but remained within pathological range. We also found a concerning increase in suicidal ideation not correlated with a concomitant increase in depressive symptomatology.
Inpatient treatment of anorexia nervosa in adolescents does not significantly modify core anorexic thoughts and perceptions. This may explain the high relapse rates. Changes in core beliefs may be crucial for recovery and prevention of relapse in anorexia nervosa at this critical age. This study may have clinical implications for the development of better treatment strategies to target the gap between disturbed thoughts and distorted perceptions - the core aspects of anorexia nervosa and physical recovery during and after the weight restoration phase.