Hospitalized Eating-Disorder Patients Admit Needing Help

Half of those who first dispute admission, admit needing treatment two weeks later

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Almost half of patients with eating disorders who originally dispute their need for treatment change their minds within the second week of hospitalization and agree their inpatient treatment is necessary, researchers report in the January issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Angela S. Guarda, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues evaluated 139 eating-disorder patients (104 adults and 35 patients under 18) on their admittance to a behavioral inpatient specialty program and two weeks later. Patients were given a 13-item questionnaire to gauge their feelings about need for treatment, coercion, others' pressure for admission and procedural justice.

Twenty of the 46 patients who at first disputed their need for hospitalization changed their mind by the second week, and agreed their hospitalization was necessary. However, feelings about coercion, others' pressure for admission and procedural justice didn't change. Anorexia nervosa patients reported more perceived coercion and less procedural justice compared to bulimic patients.

"Nearly half of patients with eating disorders who denied a need for treatment on admission converted to acknowledging that they needed to be admitted within two weeks of hospitalization. Since treatment avoidance is associated with poor outcome, these findings suggest a need for studies assessing the long-term outcome and ethics of pressuring patients with eating disorders into treatment," the authors conclude.

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