Evaluation of treatment and intermediate and long-term outcome of adolescent eating disorders

Psychol Med. 2000 Sep;30(5):1089-98. doi: 10.1017/s0033291799002354.


Background: A cohort of 60 adolescent eating-disordered patients that was consecutively admitted between 1979 and 1988 to a child and adolescent psychiatric university department in Berlin, Germany was followed up at a mean of 5-0 years and for a second time at a mean of 11.5 years.

Methods: Each patient was personally interviewed and findings dealing with eating disorder symptoms and psychosocial functioning were rated on four-point scales. In addition, the duration of both in-patient and out-patient treatment and the Body Mass Index (BMI) were recorded.

Results: Patients were in treatment for a mean of 33 % of the initial 5-year follow-up period, but this has dropped to a mean of 17% of the entire 11-year follow-up period. No predictors of treatment duration were found. The mortality rate was 8.3% at the second follow-up. The distribution of abnormal BMIs ( < 17.5) reflected a trend of improvement with increasing duration of follow-up. In comparison to the 5-year follow-up, fewer patients suffered from symptoms of the full clinical picture of an eating disorder at the 11-year follow-up. Among the surviving patients 80% recovered during the long-term course. There were few specific predictors of three different outcome criteria.

Conclusion: This outcome study of adolescent eating disorders provides further evidence that the long-term course of the disorders in terms of the eating pathology is better than can be expected after a few years. Very little can be said with regard to individual prognosis.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa / diagnosis
  • Anorexia Nervosa / mortality
  • Anorexia Nervosa / therapy*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bulimia / diagnosis
  • Bulimia / therapy*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Admission*
  • Psychiatric Department, Hospital
  • Survival Rate