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Ten-year follow-up of anorexia nervosa: clinical course and outcome

  • E. D. Eckert (a1), K. A. Halmi (a1), P. Marchi (a1), W. Grove (a1) and R. Crosby (a1)...

The clinical course and outcome of anorexia nervosa are presented in a 10-year followup study of 76 severely ill females with anorexia nervosa who met specific diagnostic criteria and had participated in a well-documented hospital treatment study. Information was obtained on 100% of the subjects. A comprehensive assessment was made in 93% of the living subjects in specific categories of weight, eating and weight control behaviours, menstrual function, anorexic attitudes, and psychological, sexual, social and vocational adjustment. Five subjects had died, which gives a crude mortality rate of 6·6%. Standardized mortality rates demonstrated an almost 13-fold increase in mortality in the anorexia nervosa subjects. Only eighteen (23·7%) were fully recovered. Sixty-four per cent developed binge-eating at some time during their illness, 57% at least weekly. Twenty-nine (41%) were still bulimic at follow-up. The high frequency and chronicity of the bulimic symptoms plus the high rate of weight relapse (42% during the first year after hospital treatment) suggest that intensive intervention is needed to help anorexics restore and maintain their weight within a normal range and to decrease abnormal eating and weight control behaviours.

Corresponding author
1Address for correspondence: Dr Elke D. Eckert, Box 393 Mayo Building, University of Minnesota Hospitals, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA.
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Psychological Medicine
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