Physical recovery in anorexia nervosa: is this the sole purpose of a child and adolescent medical-psychiatric unit?

Abstract

Patients with anorexia nervosa are discharged from inpatient medical psychiatric wards on achievement of their target weight ("physical recovery") or even earlier. However, recent studies have consistently revealed that a very high percentage relapse, usually within a year. We hypothesized that the more rapid pace of physical compared with psychological recovery in anorexia nervosa creates a gap or interim stage when inpatients are particularly vulnerable. This phase has its own identifiable characteristics and prognostic value. To counter this problem, we formulated a treatment model where patients in the "physical recovery" stage participate in a follow-up program within the inpatient unit itself concomitant with individual psychotherapy at the outpatient community service. The program helps to preserve the strong therapeutic alliance established during hospitalization and to maintain the patient's base of security against the loss of the "anorectic solution." The program provides a full range of services--inpatient, day-treatment and follow-up, adapting itself to the changing needs of the patient. It has been in effect in our unit for three years, and the rate of relapse has decreased dramatically. Further controlled studies are needed to confirm these findings.

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@article{Fennig2002PhysicalRI, title={Physical recovery in anorexia nervosa: is this the sole purpose of a child and adolescent medical-psychiatric unit?}, author={Silvana Fennig and David Roe}, journal={General hospital psychiatry}, year={2002}, volume={24 2}, pages={87-92} }