Pilot study comparing multi-family therapy to single family therapy for adults with anorexia nervosa in an intensive eating disorder program

Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2015 Jul;23(4):294-303. doi: 10.1002/erv.2359. Epub 2015 Mar 31.


Multi-family therapy (MFT) has yet to be evaluated in families of adults with anorexia nervosa (AN). The study aims were: (i) assess the feasibility of MFT for AN; and, (ii) assess whether MFT is associated with improved outcomes for families compared with single-family therapy (SFT). Adult patients with AN consecutively referred to an eating disorder treatment program were assigned (non-randomly) to receive eight sessions of SFT or MFT. Assessment occurred pre-therapy, immediately post-therapy, and at 3-month follow-up. A total of 37 female patients (13 SFT, 24 MFT) and 45 family members (16 SFT, 29 MFT) completed treatment. There were significant time effects for patients' BMI, eating disorder-related psychopathology and multiple family outcome measures. There were no differences between MFT and SFT on family outcome measures at end of treatment and 3 months post treatment. MFT is a feasible intervention that can be used in adult intensive treatment for those with AN.

Keywords: adult anorexia nervosa; eating disorders; family therapy; multi-family therapy; single-family therapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa / diagnosis
  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology
  • Anorexia Nervosa / therapy
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Family Therapy / methods*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychotherapy, Group / methods*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult