This meta-analysis examines the efficacy of recently developed psychological treatments for anorexia nervosa, compared with control condition. Outcome criteria are weight gain, eating disorder pathology, and quality of life.
Twelve thousand nine hundred ninety-seven abstracts, published between 1980 and 2017, were retrieved. End-of-treatment data from 1,279 participants, from 15 of 17 eligible studies, were used to calculate pooled-effect sizes (Hedges' g) for outcome using random-effects model. Subgroup analyses were used to explore the influence of various patient and study characteristics.
No significant differences between psychological treatment and controls were found on weight gain, g = 0.07, 95% CI [-0.09, 0.23], eating disorder pathology, g = 0.06, 95% CI [-0.10, 0.21], and quality of life, g = -0.11, 95% CI [-0.36, 0.15]. Studies including only patients over 18 years of age were more effective on weight gain than studies including adolescents as well. High-quality studies and studies with reported therapist training had larger effects on weight gain and quality of life compared with low-quality studies and studies without reported training.
Despite progress in the development of specialized treatments, the efficacy of psychological treatment over an active control condition could not be established. Outcomes, however, are obscured by low-quality and heterogeneous studies.
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