Therapy Comparison in Adolescents with Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia nervosa is defined as “a significant and persistent reduction in food intake leading to extremely low body weight in the context of age, sex, and physical health” and is influenced by distorted thought patterns (National Institute of Mental Health, 2017). This disorder is prevalent among adolescents, as “almost three percent of adolescents age 13-18 are diagnosed with an eating disorder” (US Department of Health & Human Services, 2018). Anorexia has effects not only on body size and mental health but also on long-term health outcomes such as decreased bone density, increased risk for cardiovascular disease, and decreased fertility (Mehler & Brown, 2015). Two prevalent therapies have shown positive results in the treatment of eating disorders: cognitive-based therapies and family-based therapy. These are fundamentally different in their approach to treatment and recovery outcomes (Dalle Grave et al., 2019). In family-based therapy, the entire family is involved in the recovery process due to the adolescent’s need for extensive outside support and the disorder’s effects on the whole family. Cognitive-based therapies focus on the affected individual as they learn to take control of the thoughts and behaviors involved with the disorder (Dalle Grave et al., 2019). The purpose of this Evidence-Based Practice Brief is to determine whether family-based therapy results in more effective recovery than cognitive-based therapies in the treatment of adolescents with anorexia nervosa. Nurses caring for patients with anorexia nervosa may use this evidence to recommend an effective treatment option as the disorder affects both mental and physical health outcomes.