Owing to the lack of controlled trials of treatment setting in adolescent anorexia nervosa, the benefits and costs of in-patient treatment are not established.
To clarify the relationship between a range of presenting features, treatment received and medium- to long-term outcome in adolescent anorexia nervosa.
A range of presenting variables were rated for 75 cases of DSM – III – R anorexia nervosa at presentation to an adolescent service, including the Morgan–Russell Global Assessment Score. Cases were followed up at 2–7 years and outcome rated according to reliable methods. Setting of treatment received was also recorded.
Two out of 75 cases had died by the time of follow-up. Adequate data for 72 enabled an outcome category to be assigned. The 21 who had received in-patient treatment had a significantly worse outcome than the 51 never admitted to hospital. Multivariate analysis suggests admission to be the major predictor of poor outcome.
The benefits and costs of admission to hospital require further investigation, ideally in a randomised-controlled trial. The negative consequences of in-patient treatment are neglected in research.
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