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Family Involvement Boosts Teens' Odds of Beating Bulimia

Family-based treatment doubles success rate compared to supportive psychotherapy

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescents with bulimia nervosa who receive family-based treatment may be more likely to become binge-and-purge abstinent, according to a report published in the September issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Daniel le Grange, Ph.D., of the University of Chicago, and colleagues randomly assigned 80 adolescent bulimics to six months of either family-based treatment or supportive psychotherapy. The patients were assessed 20 times during the intervention and again at six months post-treatment.

After the intervention, the researchers found that the family-based treatment group was significantly more likely than the supportive psychotherapy group to be binge-and-purge abstinent (39 percent versus 18 percent). At six months post-treatment, they found that the family-based treatment group was still more likely to be abstinent (29 percent versus 10 percent).

"While these results may in part be because we adhered to a high threshold for remission in this study, relatively low abstinence rates are nevertheless a concern and highlight the challenge in achieving successful treatment for most patients with bulimia nervosa, adults or adolescents," the authors write. "Nevertheless, these rates are at least comparable to those typically achieved in controlled trials of cognitive behavioral therapy for adult bulimia nervosa and those reported for family therapy and individual cognitive behavioral therapy-guided self-help in the only other controlled trial for adolescents with bulimia nervosa."

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