Addressing Weight Suppression to Improve Treatment Outcome for Bulimia Nervosa.
About this resource
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is regarded as the gold-standard treatment for bulimia nervosa (BN), yet despite impressive empirical support for its effectiveness, over 50% of patients fail to achieve abstinence from binge eating and purging by the end of treatment. One factor that may contribute to reduced efficacy rates in CBT is weight suppression (WS; the difference between a person's highest weight ever at their adult height and current weight). A growing body of research indicates that WS in patients with BN may have a clinically significant effect on symptomatology and prognosis. However, the current cognitive behavioral framework for BN does not explicitly acknowledge the role of WS in the onset or maintenance of BN symptoms and does not provide guidance for clinicians on how to address WS during treatment. The relationship between WS, biological pressure to regain lost weight, and the maintenance of BN symptoms suggest that current cognitive behavioral models of BN may be improved by considering the role of WS and exploring needed treatment modifications. Indeed, a reconceptualization of existing models may offer insight into potential strategies that can be used to reduce the susceptibility to treatment dropout, nonresponse, and relapse. It is therefore necessary to consider whether, and how, clinicians' consideration of WS during case conceptualization and treatment planning could serve to improve CBT outcomes. The current review explores ways in which high WS could contribute to poor CBT outcomes, provides preliminary clinical recommendations for incorporating WS into existing cognitive behavioral treatments based on extant data and clinical wisdom, and proposes suggestions for future research needed in this domain.
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