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Involuntary treatment in patients with anorexia nervosa: utilization patterns and associated factors

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BACKGROUND: A subgroup of patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) undergoing involuntary treatment (IT) seems to account for most of the IT events. Little is known about these patients and their treatment including the temporal distribution of IT events and factors associated with subsequent utilization of IT. Hence, this study explores (1) utilization patterns of IT events, and (2) factors associated with subsequent utilization of IT in patients with AN.

METHODS: In this nationwide Danish register-based retrospective exploratory cohort study patients were identified from their first (index) hospital admission with an AN diagnosis and followed up for 5 years. We explored data on IT events including estimated yearly and total 5-year rates, and factors associated with subsequent increased IT rates and restraint, using regression analyses and descriptive statistics.

RESULTS: IT utilization peaked in the initial few years starting at or following the index admission. A small percentage (1.0%) of patients accounted for 67% of all IT events. The most frequent measures reported were mechanical and physical restraint. Factors associated with subsequent increased IT utilization were female sex, lower age, previous admissions with psychiatric disorders before index admission, and IT related to those admissions. Factors associated with subsequent restraint were lower age, previous admissions with psychiatric disorders, and IT related to these.

CONCLUSIONS: High IT utilization in a small percentage of individuals with AN is concerning and can lead to adverse treatment experiences. Exploring alternative approaches to treatment that reduce the need for IT is an important focus for future research.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Medicine
Pages (from-to)1999-2007
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

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