A large-scale study has now shown that adult women with anorexia whose disorder is not too severe can be treated successfully on an out-patient basis. Even after conclusion of therapy, they continue to make significant weight gains. Two new psychotherapeutic methods offer improved opportunities for successful therapy. However, one quarter of the patients participating in the study did not show rapid results. These are the findings of the world's largest therapy trial on anorexia nervosa published in the renowned medical journal The Lancet. The Anorexia Nervosa Treatment of OutPatients (ANTOP) study was conducted at ten German university eating disorder centers and was designed by the departments for psychosomatic medicine at the university hospitals of Heidelberg (Director: Prof. Wolfgang Herzog) and Tbingen (Director: Prof. Stephan Zipfel).
Psychotherapy has been recognized as the treatment of choice for anorexia nervosa and in Germany, is covered by health insurance. However, to date there have been no large-scale clinical studies that examine the efficacy of different treatment methods on a comparative basis, constituting a glaring research gap considering the severity of the disease.
Anorexia nervosa the most lethal mental disorder
"In the long-term course, in up to 20 percent of the cases, anorexia leads to death, making it the most lethal of all of the mental disorders. Patients with anorexia often suffer from the psychological or physical consequences of the disease their entire lives," explained Prof. Zipfel. To date, no convincing studies on specific therapy programs have been available in adults. Furthermore, randomized controlled studies comparing promising therapy methods are rare. "Well-controlled, clinical studies with a high level of reliability are rare, especially for out-patient therapy, creating enormous problems," said Prof. Herzog.
Around 1 percent of the population has anorexia nervosa
|Contact: Wolfgang Herzog|
Heidelberg University Hospital