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Optimising care pathways for adult anorexia nervosa. What is the evidence to guide the provision of high-quality, cost-effective services?

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Janet Treasure, Oyenike Oyeleye, Eva Maria Bonin, Stephan Zipfel, Fernando Fernandez-Aranda

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)306-315
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Eating Disorders Review
Issue number3
Accepted/In press2021
PublishedMay 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This study was supported by the European Brain Council (EBC) and the European Psychiatric Association (EPA). Janet Treasure receives financial support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Specialist Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health award to the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London. F. Fernandez‐Aranda would like to thank CERCA Programme/Generalitat de Catalunya for institutional support and his research was partially funded by FIS‐Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII; FIS INT19/00046 and PI17/01167; PI20/132) and co‐funded by FEDER funds /European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), a way to build Europe. CIBRobn is an initiative of ISCIII. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 The Authors. European Eating Disorders Review published by Eating Disorders Association and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

King's Authors


The aim of this paper is to consider how changes in service planning and delivery might improve the care pathways for adult anorexia nervosa. Although anorexia nervosa has a long history in Europe, its framing as a mental disorder is quite recent. The changing forms and increasing epidemiology of eating disorders has led to the expansion of specialised services. Although some services provide care over the entire clinical course, more often services are divided into those that care for children and adolescents or adults. The transition needs to be carefully managed as currently these services may have a different ethos and expectations. Services for adults have a broad range of diversity (diagnostic subtype, medical severity, comorbidity, stage of illness and psychosocial functioning) all of which impacts on prognosis. A tailored, approach to treatment planning could optimise the pathway. Facilitating early help seeking and rapid diagnosis in primary care and reducing specialised services waiting lists for assessment and treatment could be a form of secondary prevention. The use of precision models and /or continuous outcome monitoring might reduce the third of patients who require more intensive care by applying augmentation strategies. Finally, gains from intensive care might be sustained by relapse prevention interventions and community support to bridge the transition home. Together these measures might reduce the proportion of patients (currently a third) with ill health for over 20 years. For this group rehabilitation strategies may improve functioning until new treatment emerge.

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