Treating eating disorders in primary care

Am Fam Physician. 2008 Jan 15;77(2):187-95.

Abstract

Binge-eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, and anorexia nervosa are potentially life-threatening disorders that involve complex psychosocial issues. A strong therapeutic relationship between the physician and patient is necessary for assessing the psychosocial and medical factors used to determine the appropriate level of care. Most patients can be effectively treated in the outpatient setting by a health care team that includes a physician, a registered dietitian, and a therapist. Psychiatric consultation may be beneficial. Patients may require inpatient care if they are suicidal or have life-threatening medical complications, such as marked bradycardia, hypotension, hypothermia, severe electrolyte disturbances, end-organ compromise, or weight below 85 percent of their healthy body weight. For the treatment of binge-eating disorder and bulimia nervosa, good evidence supports the use of interpersonal and cognitive behavior therapies, as well as antidepressants. Limited evidence supports the use of guided self-help programs as a first step in a stepped-care approach to these disorders. For patients with anorexia nervosa, the effectiveness of behavioral or pharmacologic treatments remains unclear.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / complications
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / therapy*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Primary Health Care
  • Self-Help Groups