The Effects of Family Therapy on Relapse Rates in Bulimia Nervosa Patients
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Eating disorders are caused by many factors, not just the desire to be thin. There are psychological issues that contribute to the development of eating disorders, which make them difficult to recover from. Relapse rates within the first year after discharge from an inpatient treatment center are high. A person's recovery is affected by factors such as the duration of the illness and whether he/she has a support group. Parents often play an important role in the treatment process of anorexia patients, however bulimia patients seem less likely to want to involve their parents. This is partly due to the shame they often feel because of their behavior and not wanting to worry their parents. However, bulimic individuals are more likely to come from disengaged and neglectful families in which the parents have too many concerns of their own to worry about their children. Family therapy has been successful in patients with anorexia, and if bulimic patients included their families when seeking treatment, it may be beneficial. Thirty bulimia patients leaving an inpatient treatment center were asked to participate in this proposed study. They were assigned to 2 groups of 15 people. Fifteen participants were placed in family therapy and 15 were not. Each patient had a weekly check-up for a year to see if they had relapsed. This design tested whether family therapy for 6 months would reduce the risk of relapse within the first year of discharge. At the end of the year, the 2 groups were compared to determine whether individuals in the family therapy group had a better recovery rate than the individuals in the non-therapy group.