Defining recovery from an eating disorder: Conceptualization, validation, and examination of psychosocial functioning and psychiatric comorbidity

Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 27599, USA.
Behaviour Research and Therapy (Impact Factor: 3.85). 11/2009; 48(3):194-202. DOI: 10.1016/j.brat.2009.11.001
Source: PubMed


Conceptually, eating disorder recovery should include physical, behavioral, and psychological components, but such a comprehensive approach has not been consistently employed. Guided by theory and recent recovery research, we identified a "fully recovered" group (n = 20) based on physical (body mass index), behavioral (absence of eating disorder behaviors), and psychological (Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire) indices, and compared them with groups of partially recovered (n = 15), active eating disorder (n = 53), and healthy controls (n = 67). The fully recovered group was indistinguishable from controls on all eating disorder-related measures used, while the partially recovered group was less disordered than the active eating disorder group on some measures, but not on body image. Regarding psychosocial functioning, both the fully and partially recovered groups had psychosocial functioning similar to the controls, but there was a pattern of more of the partially recovered group reporting eating disorder aspects interfering with functioning. Regarding other psychopathology, the fully recovered group was no more likely than the controls to experience current Axis I pathology, but they did have elevated rates of current anxiety disorder. Results suggest that a stringent definition of recovery from an eating disorder is meaningful. Clinical implications and future directions regarding defining eating disorder recovery are discussed.

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    • "To determine whether or not the participant no longer met criteria for an ED, guidelines suggested by Bardone-Cone et al. (2010) were used. These guidelines included BMI Ͼ18.5, abstinence of binge eating, purging, and fasting for a 3-month period, and EDE scores within 1 standard deviation of age-matched population norms (Bardone-Cone et al., 2010). To determine age matched norms for EDE scores, we utilized the data reported in a recent study of EDE scores in a large dataset of twin girls age 12–16 years (Wade et al., 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: There are few published randomized controlled trials examining treatment for symptoms of bulimia nervosa (BN) in adolescents. Additionally, many adolescents presenting for treatment for BN symptoms endorse co-occurring mood disturbances, suicidality, and nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI), and may not meet full Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV-Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) diagnostic criteria for BN. In addition to the limited number of randomized controlled trials, published treatment studies of BN symptoms in adolescence do not specifically address the multiple comorbid symptoms that these adolescents often report. The purpose of this pilot study was to examine the feasibility and effectiveness of an outpatient dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) program for adolescents with symptoms of BN, suicide attempts, and NSSI. Ten eligible participants enrolled in the study; 3 dropped within 4 weeks of initiating treatment. In addition to binge eating and suicidal behavior, participants also endorsed a number of other comorbid mood disorders and substance abuse. Seven participants completed 6 months of treatment and 6-month follow-up assessments. Treatment included access to a crisis management system, individual therapy, skills training, and a therapist consultation team. At posttreatment, participants had significantly reduced self-harm; (Cohen's d = 1.35), frequency of objective binge episodes (Cohen's d = .46), frequency of purging (Cohen's d = .66), and Global Eating Disorder Examination scores (Cohen's d = .64). At follow-up, 6 participants were abstinent of NSSI; 3 participants were abstinent from binge eating. At follow-up, treatment gains were maintained and enhanced. Results indicate that it is feasible to address multiple forms of psychopathology during the treatment of BN symptoms in this age-group. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
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    • "In addition, the outcome measures used in the study demonstrate good psychometric properties, and this allows for generalizability to other samples. Finally, the current study closely replicates findings from the diverse-diagnosis primary care sample utilized by Bardone-Cone et al. [21] in a diverse-diagnosis sample of adult females seeking specialized treatment at a higher level of intensity (89.7% received inpatient programming in the current study). However, several limitations should be considered. "
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    ABSTRACT: To compare remission rates, determine level of agreement and identify quality of life (QoL) distinctions across a broad spectrum of remission definitions among patients with eating disorders (ED). Women (N=195; 94 AN, 24 BN, and 77 EDNOS) from inpatient and partial hospital ED programs participated in a study of treatment outcomes. Remission rates were evaluated with percentages, kappa coefficients identified level of agreement and Mann-Whitney-Wilcoxon tests with Bonferroni corrections determined differences in quality of life between remitted and not remitted patients by remission definition. Depending on remission definition used, the percent of remitted patients varied from 13.2% to 40.5% for AN, 15.0% to 47.6% for BN and 24.2% to 53.1% for EDNOS. Several definitions demonstrated "very good" agreement across diagnoses. Remission was associated with higher quality of life in psychological, physical/cognitive, financial and work/school domains on a disease-specific measure, and in mental but not physical functioning on a generic measure. Remission rates vary widely depending on the definition used; several definitions show strong agreement. Remission is associated with quality of life, and often approximates scores for women who do not have an eating disorder. The ED field would benefit from adopting uniform criteria, which would allow for more accurate comparison of remission rates across therapeutic interventions, treatment modalities and facilities. We recommend using the Bardone-Cone criteria because it includes assessment of psychological functioning, was found to be applicable across diagnoses, demonstrated good agreement, and was able to distinguish quality of life differences between remitted and not remitted patients.
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    • "Indeed, the prior findings related to recovery must be tempered by the lack of a comprehensive, consensus definition of recovery (Bardone-Cone et al., 2010; Bardone-Cone, Sturm, Lawson, Robinson, & Smith, 2010). Further, although research indicates that negative affective experiences may put individuals at risk for eating disorder relapse, few studies have examined the experiences of " partially recovered " or remitted individuals who are arguably more prone to relapse than individuals who recovered across physical, behavioral, and psychology dimensions. "
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to examine a collection of negative affect symptoms in relation to stages of eating disorder recovery. Depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, loneliness, and perceived stress are known to be present in individuals with eating disorders; however, less is known about the presence of such constructs throughout the recovery process. Does this negative affect fog continue to linger in individuals who have recovered from an eating disorder? Female participants seen at some point for an eating disorder at a primary care clinic were categorized into one of three groups using a stringent definition of eating disorder recovery based on physical, behavioral, and psychological criteria: active eating disorder (n=53), partially recovered (n=15; psychological criteria not met), and fully recovered (n=20; all recovery criteria met). Additionally, data were obtained from 67 female controls who had no history of an eating disorder. Self-report data indicated that controls and women fully recovered from an eating disorder scored significantly lower than partially recovered and active eating disorder groups in perceived stress, depression, and anxiety. Controls and the fully recovered group were statistically indistinguishable from each other in these domains, as were the partially recovered and active eating disorder groups, suggesting an interesting divide depending on whether psychological criteria (e.g., normative levels of weight/shape concern) were met. In contrast, controls and fully recovered and partially recovered groups all reported feeling significantly less lonely relative to those with an active eating disorder suggesting that improved perceptions of interpersonal functioning and social support may act as a stepping stone toward more comprehensive eating disorder recovery. Future research may want to longitudinally determine if an increase in actual or perceived social support facilitates the movement toward full recovery and whether this, in turn, has salutatory effects on depression, anxiety, and perceived stress.
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