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Original Article
October 4, 2010October 2010

Randomized Clinical Trial Comparing Family-Based Treatment With Adolescent-Focused Individual Therapy for Adolescents With Anorexia Nervosa

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California (Drs Lock, Agras, and Jo and Ms Bryson); Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (Dr Le Grange); and private practice, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (Dr Moye).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010;67(10):1025-1032. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.128

Context  Evidence-based treatment trials for adolescents with anorexia nervosa are few.

Objective  To evaluate the relative efficacy of family-based treatment (FBT) and adolescent-focused individual therapy (AFT) for adolescents with anorexia nervosa in full remission.

Design  Randomized controlled trial.

Setting  Stanford University and The University of Chicago (April 2005 until March 2009).

Participants  One hundred twenty-one participants, aged 12 through 18 years, with DSM-IV diagnosis of anorexia nervosa excluding the amenorrhea requirement.

Intervention  Twenty-four outpatient hours of treatment over 12 months of FBT or AFT. Participants were assessed at baseline, end of treatment (EOT), and 6 months' and 12 months' follow-up posttreatment.

Main Outcome Measures  Full remission from anorexia nervosa defined as normal weight (≥95% of expected for sex, age, and height) and mean global Eating Disorder Examination score within 1 SD of published means. Secondary outcome measures included partial remission rates (>85% of expected weight for height plus those who were in full remission) and changes in body mass index percentile and eating-related psychopathology.

Results  There were no differences in full remission between treatments at EOT. However, at both the 6- and 12-month follow-up, FBT was significantly superior to AFT on this measure. Family-based treatment was significantly superior for partial remission at EOT but not at follow-up. In addition, body mass index percentile at EOT was significantly superior for FBT, but this effect was not found at follow-up. Participants in FBT also had greater changes in Eating Disorder Examination score at EOT than those in AFT, but there were no differences at follow-up.

Conclusion  Although both treatments led to considerable improvement and were similarly effective in producing full remission at EOT, FBT was more effective in facilitating full remission at both follow-up points.

Trial Registration  clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00149786