Impact of definitions on the description and prediction of bulimia nervosa outcome

Int J Eat Disord. 2000 Dec;28(4):377-86. doi: 10.1002/1098-108x(200012)28:4<377::aid-eat5>;2-1.


Objective: The authors sought to compare definitions of eating disorder outcome found in the bulimia nervosa literature and to determine the impact of definitions on the description and prediction of outcome.

Method: Definitions of outcome were identified from studies involving a follow-up duration of at least 5 years. Definitions were applied to a sample of women (N = 173) assessed more than 10 years following presentation with bulimia nervosa.

Results: Across definitions, the percentage of women considered fully recovered ranged from 38% to 47% in the follow-up sample. Associations between eating disorder outcome and other measures of outcome were relatively unaffected by differences in definitions. Conversely, the significance of various prognostic variables differed substantially among definitions.

Discussion: Our findings suggest that differences in definitions influence the description and prediction of eating disorder outcome significantly. Consistency in defining recovery is needed in order to explore other areas of outcome such as relapse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bulimia / diagnosis
  • Bulimia / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome