Anorexia Nervosa

Understanding non-routine discharge: Factors that are associated with premature termination from higher levels of care in adults with anorexia nervosa

Eating Disorders
By Philip S. Mehler, MD, FACP, FAED, CEDS Jamie Manwaring, PhD


This study sought to replicate and extend associations between clinical and demographic features at admission and types of premature treatment termination for adults diagnosed with anorexia nervosa (AN) in higher-level-of-care settings. Secondary data analyses examined a study population comprised of adults with AN (N = 565) who were admitted to one of two United States eating disorder treatment centers (April 2015-April 2020) for intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization, residential, or inpatient services. There were no significant differences in the type of non-routine discharge according to level of care. At admission, those with lower BMI were more likely to discharge against medical advice, and those with lower cognitive restraint and elevated binge eating were more likely to discharge against medical advice or by staff-initiated request, respectively. Discharge by parent/patient request was more likely among those who were older or who reported lower baseline desire for muscularity. Overall older age, elevated binge eating, and lower weight, desire for muscularity, and cognitive restraint may be associated with less tolerance/acceptability for AN treatment. Increased understanding of how to better support patients who admit to higher levels of care with these clinical features will contribute to better odds of completion of a full course of treatment.

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…
Written by

Jamie Manwaring, PhD

Dr. Jamie Manwaring began clinical research in eating and weight disorders after graduating with her degree in psychology from UCLA. This clinical research continued in graduate school at Washington…

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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