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Diedrich, Alice; Schlegl, Sandra; Greetfeld, Martin; Fumi, Markus; Voderholzer, Ulrich (2018): Intensive inpatient treatment for bulimia nervosa: Statistical and clinical significance of symptom changes. In: Psychotherapy Research, Vol. 28, No. 2: pp. 297-312
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Abstract

Objective: This study examines the statistical and clinical significance of symptom changes during an intensive inpatient treatment program with a strong psychotherapeutic focus for individuals with severe bulimia nervosa. Method: 295 consecutively admitted bulimic patients were administered the Structured Interview for Anorexic and Bulimic Syndromes-Self-Rating (SIAB-S), the Eating Disorder Inventory-2 (EDI-2), the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI), and the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) at treatment intake and discharge. Results: Results indicated statistically significant symptom reductions with large effect sizes regarding severity of binge eating and compensatory behavior (SIAB-S), overall eating disorder symptom severity (EDI-2), overall psychopathology (BSI), and depressive symptom severity (BDI-II) even when controlling for antidepressant medication. The majority of patients showed either reliable (EDI-2: 33.7%, BSI: 34.8%, BDI-II: 18.1%) or even clinically significant symptom changes (EDI-2: 43.2%, BSI: 33.9%, BDI-II: 56.9%). Patients with clinically significant improvement were less distressed at intake and less likely to suffer from a comorbid borderline personality disorder when compared with those who did not improve to a clinically significant extent. Conclusions: Findings indicate that intensive psychotherapeutic inpatient treatment may be effective in about 75% of severely affected bulimic patients. For the remaining non-responding patients, inpatient treatment might be improved through an even stronger focus on the reduction of comorbid borderline personality traits.