The Maudsley family-based treatment for adolescent anorexia nervosa

World Psychiatry. 2005 Oct;4(3):142-6.


Anorexia nervosa (AN) usually onsets in mid-adolescence and presents with serious psychiatric and medical morbidities. Yet, few psychological treatments for this debilitating disorder have been studied. One intervention which involves the parents of the adolescent has proved to be promising, especially in patients with a short duration of illness, i.e., less than three years. The benefits of this family-based treatment have also been shown to be enduring at five-year follow-up. All available studies of psychological treatments for adolescent AN, both controlled trials and case series, are reviewed here. Almost all of them involve parents in treatment. These studies show that the majority of patients, even those who are severely ill, can be treated quite successfully as outpatients provided that the parents participate in treatment. In this family-based treatment, parents are viewed as a resource rather than a hindrance. Optimism regarding these encouraging findings should be tempered until larger scale randomized trials have been conducted.