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Family-based Treatment of Adolescent Anorexia Nervosa: The Maudsley Approach

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Even though anorexia nervosa (AN) was first recognized more than 125 years ago, this disorder still bewilders patients and their families and perplexes clinicians and researchers. Our understanding of the medical features of AN has advanced, increasing our success at weight restoration in specialist inpatient settings.

Inpatient and day hospital treatments are generally effective in weight restoration, however, they are disruptive to the adolescentʼs family, social and educational life, and relapse is common.

Moreover, weight restoration alone is not sufficient for recovery. The Maudsley family-based outpatient treatment for AN is a promising alternative model to costly inpatient or day hospital programs. This model, which strives to bring about weight restoration and restore the adolescentʼs developmental trajectory, is explored in this article.

Research into treatment of anorexia in adolescents

Few controlled clinical trials have been conducted to explore efficacious outpatient treatments for adolescents with anorexia (1). While research has not been extensive, recent published reports of the treatment for adolescent AN have been more encouraging.

This handful of treatment trials (2) all investigated a particular type of family-based treatment which is designed to:

Prevent hospitalization of the adolescent by assisting the parents in their efforts to help their adolescent in his/her recovery from AN, and; to return him/her to normal adolescent development unencumbered by the eating disorder. This treatment was conceived by a team of child and adolescent psychiatrists and psychologists at the Maudsley Hospital in London and has come to be known as the Maudsley Approach or Family-based Treatment (FBT) for AN.

These studies have all demonstrated the efficacy of this treatment – that is, approximately two thirds of adolescent AN patients are recovered at the end of FBT while 75 - 90% are fully weight recovered at five-year followup(3). Similar improvements in terms of psychological factors were also noted for these patients.

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EmpowHER Guest

Anorexia Nervosa is also the third most common chronic disease among teenage, specially women. There are also chances of death from this eating disorder.
Anorexia Nervosa Eating Disorders

February 10, 2011 - 11:07pm

Special thanks to EmpowHER writer Mary Sornberger for working with Maudsley Parents to post Dr. le Grange's article here. Family-based treatment for adolescent anorexia nervosa shows very promising results in studies. The approach has also been adapted for bulimia nervosa. http://maudsleyparents.org/bulimianervosa.html In addition, a recent case study at the University of Chicago used family-based treatment for young adults with AN. http://maudsleyparents.org/youngadults.html

February 21, 2010 - 1:04pm
EmpowHER Guest

For any parents of anorexics who are reading this and who are not using Maudsley-I would like to tell you that an eating disorder is not your fault! And yes, it really works and yes, yes, you can do it! We used traditional treatment for 6 months and had 7 hospitalizations. Since starting Maudsley we have had none and we are in stage II-III. Good luck and google F.E.A.S.T. if you need more information and support!!!!!

February 21, 2010 - 11:38am

This is such good news, and I am so glad that you are involved in such positive work to help families bring sufferers to recovery.

February 21, 2010 - 10:03am
EmpowHER Guest

Thank you Dr. Le Grange, for taking the time to share this informative and hopeful news with us.

February 11, 2010 - 5:13am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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