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Family Based Treatment Found Most Effective for Anorexia Nervosa Patients

An anorexia nervosa treatment strategy that promotes parental involvement in restoring an adolescent to healthy weight and eating habits is more effective than traditional individual-based anorexia nervosa therapy, according to new research. The study, published online in Archives of General Psychiatry, is the first randomized clinical trial to definitively demonstrate that family based treatment, also known as the Maudsley Approach, is the treatment of choice for this patient population.

Family based treatment is an intensive outpatient program where families are encouraged to play an active role in restoring their anorexic child to healthy weight. The treatment seeks to avoid hospitalization of the child with anorexia and instead helps the parents encourage healthy eating habits at home.

"What this study unequivocally demonstrates is if you have an adolescent with anorexia nervosa who is medically stable, family based treatment should be the first line of treatment," said Daniel Le Grange, PhD, professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience and director of the Eating Disorders Clinic at the University of Chicago and co-senior author of the study.

Daniel Le Grange discusses the Maudsley Approach, a family-based treatment program for adolescents with eating disorders, for our Dr. FAQ video series.

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