In general, however, we're "not very successful with eating disorders," said Andrea Vazzana, a clinical assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the New York University Child Study Center. "Post-treatment, the success rates are still pretty low."
More options are needed, she added.
The new trial involved 80 teens -- aged 12 to 19 -- with a diagnosis of bulimia nervosa or partial bulimia nervosa. They were randomly assigned to receive family-based treatment or supportive psychotherapy, both involving 20 visits to a clinic over a six-month period.
"Individuals in the two groups received the same dose and duration of treatment, but the content of the treatment was different," le Grange explained.
In the family-based treatment group, parents and even siblings attended sessions with the patient and also played an active role at home. In the control group, which was intended to replicate what typically would happen in actual practice, the parents were not involved and the treatment did not address the eating disorder as directly, le Grange said.
At the end of the treatment, almost 40 percent of the teens in family-based treatment had stopped binging and purging, compared to only 18 percent of those in the control group.
Six months after treatment had ended, almost 30 percent of those in family-based treatment still were not binging and purging, compared to only 10 percent of those in supportive psychotherapy.
It's unclear if it was the family's involvement or the focus on eating behavior that led to the better results, le Grange said.
Vazzana said: "I do think it [the family-based therapy] looks promising, mostly based on the good results they've had with patients with anorexia. It follows the same model. It makes sense that it wo
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