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Characteristics of patients in an eating disorder sample who dropped out: 2-year follow-up



This manuscript explores the characteristics of individuals diagnosed with an eating disorder who dropped out of treatment, compared with those who completed it.


The participants were 196 patients diagnosed with eating disorders (according to DSM-IV-TR criteria) who consecutively began treatment for the first time in an eating disorders unit. They were assessed at baseline with a set of questionnaires evaluating eating habits, temperament, and general psychopathology. During the follow-up period, patients who dropped out were re-assessed via a telephone interview.


In the course of a 2-year follow-up, a total of 80 (40.8%) patients were labeled as dropouts, and 116 (59.2%) remaining subjects were considered completers. High TCI scores in the character dimensions of Disorderliness (NS4) (p < .01) and total Novelty Seeking (NST), along with low scores in Dependency (RD4), were significantly associated with dropout in the course of 2 years. Once the results were submitted to logistic regression analysis, dropout only remained associated with high scores in Disorderliness (NS4) and, inversely, with an initial Anorexia Nervosa (AN) diagnosis (p < .05). Reasons for dropout stated by the patients included logistic difficulties, subjective improvement of their condition, and lack of motivation.


Clinicians should handle the first therapeutic intervention with particular care in order to enhance their understanding of clients and their ability to rapidly identify those who are at risk of dropping out of treatment.

Level of evidence

Level III: Cohort Study.

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Authors and Affiliations



All authors declare their individual contributions to the manuscript. The authors contributed to the study as follows: Andrés Gómez del Barrio participated in all phases of the study and in writing the manuscript. Yolanda Vellisca Gonzalez, Jana González Gómez, José Ignacio Latorre Marín, Laura Carral-Fernández, Santos Orejudo Hernandez, Inés Madrazo Río-Hortega and Laura Moreno Malfaz all contributed in equal measure to designing the study, actively recruiting participants, writing the manuscript and proofreading the final versions. All authors contributed to and have approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Andrés Gómez del Barrio.

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All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest. The final manuscript has been approved by all authors. None of them have any conflict of interest to declare.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Gómez del Barrio, A., Vellisca Gonzalez, M.Y., González Gómez, J. et al. Characteristics of patients in an eating disorder sample who dropped out: 2-year follow-up. Eat Weight Disord 24, 767–775 (2019).

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