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Few Anorexia Nervosa Patients Make Complete Recovery

Caregivers ID seven domains of recovery; physical recovery occurs before social, emotional recovery

THURSDAY, Nov. 21, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Caregivers identify distinct components of recovery from eating disorders, although only 20 percent report achievement of full recovery, according to a study published online Nov. 19 in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Erin C. Accurso, Ph.D., from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues examined caregiver perspectives on recovery from an eating disorder. A total of 387 caregivers completed an online survey relating to their child’s weight history, treatment history, trajectory of illness, and recovery.

The researchers found that the children were mainly female with adolescent-onset anorexia nervosa. Seven recovery domains were identified in a qualitative analysis of caregivers’ open-ended definitions of recovery. These domains included: weight; body imaging, eating disorder cognitions, and related emotions; eating behavior; independence and responsibility in management of the eating disorder; physical health; psychological well-being; and life worth living. Seventy-two percent of caregivers reported that their child had achieved partial or full recovery at some point; however, only 20 percent reported that their child had achieved full recovery. On average, physical recovery occurred 2.7 years after onset of the eating disorder, followed by social and emotional recovery at 2.9 years and behavioral and cognitive recovery at 3.4 and 3.9 years, respectively.

“Parents are telling us that recovery needs to be approached more holistically, with treatments that extend beyond eating disorder symptoms to target emotional well-being, cognitive flexibility, and establishment of a meaningful life,” Accurso said in a statement.

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