The British Journal of Psychiatry
Ten-year follow-up of 50 patients with bulimia nervosa.
S Collings, M King


Long-term outcome studies for people suffering from bulimia nervosa are few. Ten years after presentation, we followed up 50 patients (49 women, 1 man) who were originally involved in a double-blind, controlled trial of the antidepressant mianserin. Standardised interviews and questionnaires were used to assess eating attitudes and behaviour, psychiatric status and social functioning. A DSM-III-R diagnosis was given where appropriate. Sufficient information to make a diagnosis was obtained for 44 subjects (88%). Of patients traced, 52% had recovered fully and only 9% continued to suffer the full syndrome; 39% continued to experience some symptoms. Significant predictors of favourable outcome were younger age at onset, higher social class and a family history of alcohol abuse. Outcome for bulimia nervosa continues to improve over ten years with the majority of patients eventually making a full recovery or suffering only moderate abnormalities in eating attitudes. Although predictors of recovery were few, it would appear that intervention has a significant impact on ultimate outcome.