See What HealthDay Can Do For You
Contact Us

Anorexia Outcomes May Be Better Than Thought

Finnish study shows that most patients recover within five years, regardless of treatment

FRIDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Among young Finnish women, anorexia nervosa is a common but usually transient condition. About two-thirds of patients experience a full recovery within five years of symptom onset, according to a report published in the August issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Anna Keski-Rahkonen, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Helsinki, Finland, and colleagues analyzed data on 2,881 women from the 1975-1979 birth cohorts of Finnish twins and compared outcomes between 292 twins with eating disorders, 134 of their female co-twins without eating disorders, and 210 controls without eating disorders.

The researchers found a 2.2 percent lifetime prevalence of anorexia nervosa, with an incidence of 270 per 100,000 person-years in women aged 15 to 19. Although the Finnish health care system detected only half of the cases, the five-year recovery rate was 66.8 percent among detected and undetected cases.

"In this population study, the incidences of DSM-IV and broad anorexia nervosa were much higher than rates reported previously," the authors conclude. "The five-year clinical recovery rates were higher than those reported in most previous studies. Nonetheless, the burden of illness was remarkable. After clinical recovery, the residua of illness steadily receded: women closely resembled their unaffected co-twins on most measures after five years in clinical recovery, which demonstrates that full psychological recovery is both possible and likely."

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)

Physician's Briefing