Comparison of family therapy and family group psychoeducation in adolescents with anorexia nervosa

Can J Psychiatry. 2000 Mar;45(2):173-8. doi: 10.1177/070674370004500208.


Objective: To compare the effects of 4 months of 2 family-oriented treatments, family therapy and family psychoeducation, on female adolescents with newly diagnosed restrictive eating disorders.

Method: Twenty-five female adolescents requiring hospitalization were randomized into either family therapy or family group psychoeducation. Outcome measures included medical (body weight) and psychosocial (specific and nonspecific eating disorder psychopathology) variables at baseline and after 4 months of treatments every 2 weeks.

Results: A significant time effect was found in both treatment groups for the restoration of body weight (percentage of ideal body weight, P < 0.00001). The group averages ranged from 75% to 77% ideal body weight before treatment to 91% to 96% after it. A time effect was also seen on the Family Assessment Measure (P < 0.018), in that the patients of both groups acknowledged more family psychopathology at the end of treatment. No significant group differences were found on any of the self-report measures of specific and nonspecific eating disorder pathology.

Conclusions: Weight restoration was achieved following the 4-month period of treatment in both the family therapy and family psychoeducation groups, but no significant change was reported in psychological functioning by either adolescents or parents. Family group psychoeducation, the less expensive form of treatment, is an equally effective method of providing family-oriented treatment to newly diagnosed, medically compromised anorexia nervosa patients and their families.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / therapy*
  • Child
  • Family Therapy / education*
  • Family Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male