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Current treatment for anorexia nervosa: efficacy, safety, and adherence

Authors Bodell L, Keel PK

Published 19 October 2010 Volume 2010:3 Pages 91—108

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S13814

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2


Lindsay P Bodell, Pamela K Keel
Department of Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA

Abstract: Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a serious psychiatric illness associated with significant medical and psychiatric morbidity, psychosocial impairment, increased risk of death, and chronicity. Given the severity of the disorder, the establishment of safe and effective treatments is necessary. Several treatments have been tried in AN, but few favorable results have emerged. This paper reviews randomized controlled trials in AN, and provides a synthesis of existing data regarding the efficacy, safety, and adherence associated with pharmacologic and psychological interventions. Randomized controlled trials for the treatment of AN published in peer-reviewed journals were identified by electronic and manual searches. Overall, pharmacotherapy has limited benefits in the treatment of AN, with some promising preliminary findings associated with olanzapine, an antipsychotic agent. No single psychological intervention has demonstrated clear superiority in treating adults with AN. In adolescents with AN, the evidence base is strongest for the use of family therapy over alternative individual psychotherapies. Results highlight challenges in both treating individuals with AN and in studying the effects of those treatments, and further emphasize the importance of continued efforts to develop novel interventions. Treatment trials currently underway and areas for future research are discussed.

Keywords: anorexia nervosa, treatment, pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy, randomized controlled trials

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