"You mean it's more than just an eating disorder?": Commentary on Wade et al. (2023)

Int J Eat Disord. 2023 Sep 11. doi: 10.1002/eat.24060. Online ahead of print.


Drawing from literature on measurement-based care and prognostic indices in eating disorder (ED) treatment, Wade et al. offer an algorithm for treating co-occurring mental-health conditions (i.e., psychiatric comorbidity) in people with EDs, and for studying effects of comorbidity-oriented treatments. Advocating session-by-session measurement to inform adaptive treatment, their proposal outlines a process for adjusting conventional ED treatment to situations in which comorbidity impedes treatment progress. The plan is methodical and responsive to evidence suggesting that peoples' early in-treatment change has more power, prognostically, than do indices of comorbidity. In the absence of data to inform practices in some areas, the authors intentionally leave key questions unanswered until future results are in. But this means that they reserve comment on how to determine that comorbidity is interfering with treatment response, or to select the best-fitting of available comorbidity-oriented options. Likewise, the proposal draws most of its inspiration from literature on individual (mainly cognitive-behavioral) psychotherapy and, as a result, does not fully represent biopsychosocial perspectives, or elaborate upon the place in comorbidity management of biological treatments, family, and carer involvement, or more complex integrated approaches. Considerations on how to apply the latter methods would broaden the plan's scope.

Keywords: comorbidity; eating disorders; measurement-based care; prognosis; psychotherapy; treatment; treatment outcome.