Deakin University

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Models of care for eating disorders: findings from a rapid review

Version 3 2024-06-19, 19:15
Version 2 2023-08-17, 03:53
Version 1 2023-05-29, 06:15
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-19, 19:15 authored by Melissa J Pehlivan, Jane Miskovic-Wheatley, Anvi Le, Danielle Maloney, National Eating Disorders Research Consortium, Stephen Touyz, Sarah Maguire
Abstract Background Delayed diagnosis, gaps in services and subsequent delays in specialist care and treatment lead to poorer health outcomes for individuals with eating disorders (EDs) and drive significant government healthcare expenditure. Given the significant disease burden associated with EDs, it is imperative that current implementation research is summarised to identify gaps in care and enable refinement for optimal patient outcomes. This review aimed to provide an updated synthesis on models of care for EDs in developed healthcare systems. Methods This paper was conducted as part of a series of Rapid Reviews (RRs) to be published in a special series in the Journal of Eating Disorders. To provide a current and rigorous review, peer-reviewed articles published in the English language between 2009 and 2021 across three databases (ScienceDirect, PubMed and Ovid/Medline) were searched, with priority given to higher level evidence (e.g., meta-analyses, large population studies, Randomised Control Trials (RCTs)). The current review synthesises data from included studies investigating models of care for people with EDs. Results Sixty-three studies (4.5% of the original RR) were identified, which included several diagnostic populations, the most common being Anorexia Nervosa (AN) (30.51%). Across EDs, specialist care was found to improve patient outcomes, with many patients effectively being treated in outpatient or day programs with multi-disciplinary teams, without the need for lengthy inpatient hospitalisation. Few studies investigated the interaction of different ED services (e.g., inpatient, community services, primary care), however stepped care models emerged as a promising approach to integrate ED services in a targeted and cost-effective way. Issues surrounding low treatment uptake, underdiagnosis, long waiting lists and limited hospital beds were also evident across services. Conclusion Findings suggested further research into alternatives to traditional inpatient care is needed, with partial and shorter ‘hospitalisations’ emerging as promising avenues. Additionally, to tackle ongoing resource issues and ensure timely detection and treatment of EDs, further research into novel alternatives, such as active waiting lists or a greater role for primary care clinicians is needed. Plain English summary This paper is part of a larger Rapid Review series carried out to guide Australia’s National Eating Disorders Research and Translation Strategy 2021–2031. Rapid reviews aim to thoroughly summarise an area of research over a short time period, typically to help with policymaking in this area. This Rapid Review summarises the evidence relating to how we care for people with eating disorders in Western healthcare systems. Topics covered include inpatient/hospital care, residential care, day programs, outpatient/community care, and referral pathways. Findings suggested specialist eating disorder services may enhance detection, referral, and patient care. Stepped care models presented as a cost-effective approach which may help with linkage between different eating disorder services. There was a trend towards shorter hospital stays and approaches which allow for greater connection with the community, such as day programs. Evidence was also found of treatment delays, due to system issues (long waiting lists, lack of accurate assessment and diagnosis) and patient-related barriers (stigma, recognition). Upskilling and involving primary care clinicians in diagnosis and referral as part of a stepped care model may help to address some of these concerns. Further efforts to improve mental health literacy and de-stigmatise help-seeking for eating disorders are needed.



Journal of Eating Disorders



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London, Eng.







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C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal





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