Family-Based Therapy for Young Adults with Anorexia Nervosa Restores Weight

Int J Eat Disord. 2016 Jul;49(7):701-7. doi: 10.1002/eat.22513. Epub 2016 Apr 1.


Objective: We examined the preliminary acceptability and efficacy of family-based therapy (FBT) for weight restoration in young adults (FBTY) with Anorexia Nervosa (AN).

Method: Twenty-two primarily female participants ranging from age 18 to 26, with AN or atypical AN (ICD-10) and their support adults were enrolled in a 6-month open trial of FBTY. Participants were assessed at baseline, after treatment, and at six and 12 month follow-up visits. The primary outcome was BMI and secondary outcomes included eating disorder psychopathology, current eating disorder obsessions, and compulsions, number of other Axis I disorders and global assessment of functioning.

Results: Although FBTY was rated as suitable by participants and their support adults, during FBTY, 9/22 participants dropped out and 3/22 dropped out at follow-up assessments. Despite being offered 18-20 sessions over six months, a mean of 12 FBTY sessions (SD = 6) were attended. After FBTY, 15 of the intent-to-treat sample of 22 were no longer underweight (BMIs ≥ 19 kg/m(2) ) and 12 months after treatment, 13/22 were no longer underweight. The magnitude of the BMI increase during FBTY (Hedges g = 1.20, 95th percentile CI = 0.55-1.85) was comparable to findings for adolescent FBT for AN. Secondary outcomes also improved.

Discussion: FBTY for young adults with AN and atypical AN, which involves support adults participants have chosen, results in weight restoration that is sustained up to a year after treatment. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2016; 49:701-707).

Keywords: anorexia; family-based therapy; readiness to change; school mandated treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa / physiopathology
  • Anorexia Nervosa / therapy*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Family Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Gain
  • Young Adult