Stein Frostad, Yngvild S. Danielsen, Guro Å. Rekkedal, Charlotte Jevne, Riccardo Dalle Grave, Øyvind Rø and Ute Kessler
Anorexia nervosa (AN) in adults is difficult to treat, and no current treatment is supported by robust evidence. A few studies, most of which were performed by highly specialized research units, have indicated that enhanced cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT-E) for eating disorders can be effective. However, the dropout rate is high and the evidence from non-research clinical units is sparse.
This quality assessment project implemented CBT-E in an outpatient setting at a public hospital. Forty-four patients with AN started therapy. Each patient received at least 40 sessions of CBT-E over a 12-month period. Their body mass index (BMI) was recorded at baseline and after 3, 6 and 12 months. Reasons for not starting therapy or for leaving therapy prematurely were recorded.
Half (n = 22) of the 44 patients who started outpatient CBT-E did not complete the treatment. In the remaining sample there was a large (and statistically significant) weight gain after 12 months. The percentage of patients achieving the target BMI of > 18.5 kg/m2 was 36.4, 50.0 and 77.3% after 3, 6 and 12 months, respectively.
This quality assessment project shows that it is possible to establish effective CBT-E in an outpatient eating-disorder unit at a public hospital. Although half of the patients did not complete CBT-E, the remaining patients achieved a significant increase in BMI at 1 year after the start of therapy.