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Anorexia Nervosa
Bulimia Nervosa
Atypical Anorexia Nervosa
Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

Motivation to recover for adolescent and adult eating disorder patients in residential treatment

European Eating Disorders Review
By Philip S. Mehler, MD, FACP, FAED, CEDS


This study aimed to assess how baseline motivation to recover impacts eating disorder (ED) and comorbid symptoms at end-of-treatment (EOT) for adolescents and adults in inpatient/residential treatment.


Two hundred and three adolescent (M = 15.90) and 395 adult (M = 25.45) patients with a Diagnostic Statistical Manual, 5th edition ED diagnosis completed the Decisional Balance Scale (DBS) at baseline, and psychosocial measures (ED symptoms, anxiety, depression, obsessive–compulsive disorder symptoms), and %body mass index (kg/m2; BMI) or median %BMI (for adolescents) at baseline and EOT.


The DBS Avoidance Coping and Burdens subscales at baseline were significantly lower for adolescents than adults (p < 0.001), whereas the DBS Benefits subscale at baseline did not significantly differ between subsamples (p = 0.06). Motivation to recover via DBS subscales was a more reliable predictor of EOT outcomes for both ED and comorbid psychopathology in adults (significant predictor in 19 of 54 total analyses, and 4 significant associations post-Bonferroni correction) than adolescents (significant predictor in 5 of 54 total analyses, and 1 significant association post-Bonferroni correction).


Baseline motivation to recover may be an important predictor of outcome for adult patients in inpatient/residential treatment but does not appear associated with outcomes for adolescent patients.


Written by

Philip S. Mehler, MD, FACP, FAED, CEDS

Dr. Philip S. Mehler began his career at Denver Health more than 35 years ago and was formerly its Chief of Internal Medicine and then Denver Health’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) until he was promoted…

ACUTE Earns Prestigious Center of Excellence Designation from Anthem
In 2018, the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition at Denver Health was honored by Anthem Health as a Center of Excellence for Medical Treatment of Severe and Extreme Eating Disorders. ACUTE is the first medical unit ever to achieve this designation in the field of eating disorders. It comes after a rigorous review process.

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