The acceptability, feasibility, and possible benefits of a neurobiologically-informed 5-day multifamily treatment for adults with anorexia nervosa

Int J Eat Disord. 2018 Aug;51(8):863-869. doi: 10.1002/eat.22876. Epub 2018 May 2.


Objective: Novel treatments for adults with anorexia nervosa (AN) are lacking. Recent scientific advances have identified neurobiologically-driven temperament contributors to AN symptoms that may guide development of more effective treatments. This preliminary study evaluates the acceptability, feasibility and possible benefits of a multicenter open trial of an intensive 5-day neurobiologically-informed multifamily treatment for adults with AN and their supports (SU). The temperament-focused treatment combines psychoeducation of AN neurobiology and SU involvement to develop skills to manage traits contributing to disease chronicity.

Method: Fifty-four adults with AN and at least one SU (n = 73) received the 5-day treatment. Acceptability, feasibility, and attrition were measured post-treatment. Clinical outcome (BMI, eating disorder psychopathology, family function) was assessed post-treatment and at >3-month follow-up.

Results: The treatment had low attrition, with only one drop-out. Patients and SU rated the intervention as highly acceptable, and clinicians reported good feasibility. At post-treatment, patients demonstrated significantly increased BMI, reduced eating disorder psychopathology, and improved family function. Benefits were maintained in the 39 patients who completed follow-up assessment, with 62% reporting full or partial remission.

Discussion: Preliminary results are promising and suggest this novel treatment is feasible and acceptable. To establish treatment efficacy, fully-powered randomized controlled trials are necessary.

Keywords: anorexia nervosa; intensive multifamily treatment; open trial; temperament based treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa / pathology
  • Anorexia Nervosa / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurobiology / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome*
  • Young Adult