The British Journal of Psychiatry
A comparison of nutritional management with stress management in the treatment of bulimia nervosa.
R G Laessle, P J Beumont, P Butow, W Lennerts, M O'Connor, K M Pirke, S W Touyz, S Waadt


In a comparison of nutritional management (NM) and stress management (SM) for treatment of bulimia nervosa, 55 female patients were randomly assigned to either treatment. Therapy consisted of 15 sessions in a group over three months, by the end of which, patients under both treatment conditions showed a significant reduction in the frequency of binge eating and vomiting and a significant improvement in various psychopathological features such as body dissatisfaction and depression. All improvements were maintained over 12-month follow-up NM produced a more rapid improvement in general eating behaviour, a faster reduction in binge frequency and a higher abstinence rate from binge eating. SM led to greater positive changes in certain psychopathological features such as feelings of ineffectiveness, interpersonal distrust and anxiety. NM should be regarded as a necessary first intervention in all bulimic patients. Further psychological therapy, such as SM, is indicated as well for some patients, depending on their specific psychological difficulties.