What happens to eating disorder outpatients who withdrew from therapy?
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- Di Pietro, G., Valoroso, L., Fichele, M. et al. Eat Weight Disord (2002) 7: 298. doi:10.1007/BF03324976
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Objective: Dropouts are frequent among eating disorder (ED) patients, but less is known about their natural history. This paper assesses the outcome of outpatients who dropped out from a therapy programme and its possible causes. Material and Methods: From 1992 to 1994, we assessed 222 ED subjects. Psychiatrists expert in EDs evaluated these subjects by defining baseline parameters and diagnosis was made according to the 3rd revisioned edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. One hundred and twenty-eight subjects (57%) dropped out during the treatment. In 1997, we contacted them, reassessed the same baseline parameters and asked for a self-judgment about their social and clinical condition during the previous 2-5 years. Patients were classified as “improved” and “not improved” (stationary or worse) according to their social, physical and psychological condition. The relation between baseline condition and outcome was determined statistically. Results: Seventy-one percent of subjects were “improved” and no deaths were recorded. A significant correlation was found between “duration of illness” and no treatment following a dropout. Discussion: The high percentage of improvement among dropouts was unexpected. Shorter duration of illness and lack of specific therapy in the improved patients suggest the existence of a subset of ED patients with acute onset and a spontaneous tendency to improve. This point obviously requires further investigation.