A systematic review of outcomes following residential treatment for eating disorders Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE:Residential centres for the treatment of eating disorders are becoming increasingly common, yet data following residential care are scarce. We reviewed outcomes of residential treatment for eating disorders across all diagnoses, age groups and genders. A secondary goal was to identify treatment elements and patient characteristics that predicted a greater response to treatment. METHOD:Peer-reviewed studies published in the last 20 years were identified through a systematic search of the electronic databases PubMed and Cochrane Library. RESULTS:Nineteen open-label studies reporting changes between admission and discharge were included in this review. Most took an eclectic approach to treatment, integrating elements from several different techniques without a unifying theoretical framework. All studies reported improvements in most outcomes at discharge, including changes in eating disorders psychopathology, weight, depression, anxiety and quality of life. Eight studies reported outcomes at some interval after discharge, with largely positive outcomes. CONCLUSIONS:While residential care was associated with consistently positive outcomes, the variability in program characteristics and poor quality of research designs prevent firm conclusions from being drawn about their efficacy. Future research should include controlled studies that evaluate specific theoretical approaches and program elements, include long-term follow-up, and compare residential care to other treatment settings.

publication date

  • April 28, 2020