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Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1983 May 21; 286(6378): 1609–1613.
PMCID: PMC1547940

Bulimia nervosa, binge eating, and psychogenic vomiting: a controlled treatment study and long term outcome.


An "epidemic" prevalence of binge eating and vomiting (bulimia nervosa) has been reported, and treatment has been claimed to be difficult. This paper describes a short term outpatient treatment programme of eclectic orientation capable of being conducted by non-specialist staff, under medical supervision, in local centres. The treatment programme was evaluated in a controlled trial and in long term follow up. In 30 women with severe bulimia the treatment programme significantly reduced their incidence of dietary manipulation without producing weight gain, weight disorder, or neurotic illness. After treatment all the women had fewer symptoms; 24 stopped binge eating and vomiting at the end of treatment, and a further four stopped shortly afterwards. During formal follow up 20 showed no dietary abuse and a further eight reduced their attacks to an average of three episodes a year: all judged treatment to be a success. Pretreatment indicators of poorer prognosis include alcohol abuse and a history of anorexia nervosa. Married patients experienced marital difficulties or illness in the spouse.

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