Indicators of Severity in Eating Disorders in Adolescents and the Effects on Rapidity of Weight Gain During Hospitalization




Staub, Brittany Nicole

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Eating disorders are a very complex and serious psychiatric condition that require an ongoing commitment to a comprehensive treatment plan involving both medical and psychological intervention. Increases in the prevalence of this disorder, the high cost of hospitalization and the mounting rates of relapse have lead to increased pressure to identify and to understand predictive indicators of recovery. Though predictive variables have been identified in multiple studies, results are inconsistent and continue to focus on psychological measures; meanwhile disease-related variables are less frequently explored with regard to weight gain and more consistently reviewed in connection with long-term outcome. The primary aim of this study was to explore whether measures of severity at admission predicted rapidity of weight gain, or, more specifically, the length of time for a patient to achieve 85 percent of his or her ideal body weight. The sample consisted of 59 patients who were hospitalized for an eating disorder and who were admitted below 85 percent of their ideal body weight. Upon admission, patients completed self-report measures to assess depression and eating disorder symptomatology. Additionally, archival data concerning other measures of severity were gathered from patient medical charts. The study’s results suggest that the patient-reported intensity of eating disordered symptoms at admission are a significant predictor of length of time to reach 85 percent of ideal body weight. In future studies, researchers should utilize alternative measures of psychological functioning and eating disorder symptomatology, in addition to self-reports, to obtain more accurate predictors of severity.

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