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A Journal on Psychiatry, Psychology and Psychopharmacology

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Social Psychiatry
Indexed/Abstracted in: EMBASE, e-psyche, PsycINFO, Scopus

Frequency: Quarterly

ISSN 0374-9320

Online ISSN 1827-1731


Minerva Psichiatrica 2010 September;51(3):207-15


Treatment of adolescent eating disorders: progress and challenges

Lock J.

Department of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA

Although eating disorders are common psychiatric disorders that usually onset during adolescence, few evidence-based treatments for this age group have been identified. A critical review of treatments used for anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) and related conditions (EDNOS) is provided that summarizes the rationale for the treatments, evidence of effectiveness available, and outcomes. Critical review of published randomized clinical trials (RCTs). There are only 7 published RCTs of psychotherapy for AN in adolescents with a total of 480 subjects. There are only two published RCTs for outpatient psychotherapy for adolescent BN with a total of 165 subjects. There are no published RCTs examining medications for adolescent AN or BN. For adolescent AN, family-based treatment (FBT) is the treatment with the most evidence supporting its use. Three RCTs suggest that FBT is superior to individual therapy at the end of treatment; however, at follow-up differences between individual and family approaches are generally reduced. For adolescent BN, one study found no differences between cognitive behavioral therapy and FBT at the end of treatment or follow-up, while the other found FBT superior to individual therapy. Although the evidence remains limited, FBT appears to be the first line treatment for adolescent AN. There is little evidence to support a specific treatment for adolescent BN. There is a need for additional studies of treatment of child and adolescent eating disorders. New treatments studies may build on current evidence as well as examine new approaches based on novel findings in the neurosciences about cognitive and emotional processes in eating disorders.

language: English


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