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Anorexia nervosa is a serious disorder, which often takes a chronic course. Early treatment leads to a significantly better prognosis and prevents chronicity. However, existing evidence on facilitators and barriers in anorexia nervosa treatment initiation is scarce.
Against this background, the FABIANA study (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03713541) aims to (a) identify potentially modifiable facilitators and barriers from the perspectives of adolescent and adult patients with anorexia nervosa, carers and physicians, (b) develop and test an instrument for the combined assessment of multiple key facilitators and barriers, and (c) quantify the effect of potentially modifiable versus non-modifiable key facilitators and barriers on the duration of untreated illness (DUI) in patients with anorexia nervosa.
FABIANA is an observational, mixed-method-study divided into three consecutive substudies each corresponding to one of the study aims. All three substudies will include female patients with anorexia nervosa aged 14 years and older at the beginning of their first psychotherapeutic anorexia nervosa treatment. The qualitative substudy I and the quantitative substudy III will additionally include carers and involved physicians. The recruitment will take place at 20 cooperating study centres throughout Germany, which provide in-patient or out-patient anorexia nervosa specialist care. The DUI will be calculated based on the month of illness onset as determined in validated interviews on lifetime anorexia nervosa symptoms and the therapist-reported date of treatment initiation.
Strengths and limitations of the retrospective assessment of the DUI will be discussed. The findings of the FABIANA study will contribute to the development of evidence-based early-intervention approaches and the prevention of a chronic course of illness.
This non-randomized pre–post-intervention study investigated the effect of a systemic public health intervention on the length of time between anorexia nervosa symptom onset and contact with the health care system as well as the initiation of treatment.
Although systemic public health interventions have successfully been implemented in physical and mental health fields, their effect on the early treatment of patients with anorexia nervosa remains unclear.
In total, 59 anorexia nervosa patients (mean age=21.5 years, SD=7.2) were recruited before a systemic public health intervention, and 18 patients (mean age=22.2 years, SD=8.9) were recruited afterwards. Using validated self-report measures and a semi-structured interview, the duration of untreated anorexia nervosa and the duration until first contact with the health care system were investigated.
At the beginning of the individual treatment initiation process, participants in both samples most frequently consulted their general practitioner or paediatrician about their eating disorder-related symptoms. Neither the mean duration of untreated anorexia nervosa, that is, the time between illness onset and the initiation of a recommended treatment, nor the duration until first contact with the health care system significantly decreased after the implementation of the systemic public health intervention. The mean duration of untreated anorexia nervosa was 36.5 months (SD=68.2) before the systemic public health intervention and 40.1 months (SD=89.4) after the implementation of the systemic public health intervention. The mean duration until first contact with the health care system was 25.0 months (SD=53.0) before the intervention and 32.8 months (SD=86.5) after the intervention.
Primary care providers are crucial to the treatment initiation process and should be involved in future interventions to improve early detection and treatment commencement amongst patients with anorexia nervosa.
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