So the idea of screening for eating disorders there, and helping at-risk teens get treatment after they leave the ER, could be an effective way of stemming problems before they become even more serious. Similar approaches have been taken for drug and alcohol abuse, risky driving, and other risky behaviors.
The new study was part of the UConnect study, led by Rebecca Cunningham, M.D., who is senior author of the new paper and an associate professor of emergency medicine, and Maureen Walton, MPH, Ph.D., a co-author of the new paper and research associate professor of psychiatry. Cunningham also holds an associate professorship at the U-M School of Public Health and directs the U-M Injury Center.
The researchers acknowledge that the study represents patients from one hospital, located in a university town, and say that further research would be needed to confirm the findings' applicability before any interventions are designed.
"They come in for other things and it's up to health care providers to know what to look for," says Dooley-Hash, an assistant professor of emergency medicine who has worked to educate her fellow emergency physicians about eating disorders and how to spot high-risk teens. "ER teams can be equipped to refer patients for care, just as we do for substance abuse. It could be a wakeup call, a teachable moment, a chance to tell them they need to seek help and direct them to resources."
She notes that many teens with eating disorders may come to their physician or an ER with stomach-related complaints but not want to acknowledge that their symptoms are related to an eating issue. Many go undiagnosed for years. On the other end of the spectrum, she says she has seen teens die in the ER after struggling with ea
|Contact: Kara Gavin|
University of Michigan Health System