Bulimia nervosa is a disease that predominately affects young females. Since the origination of its medical definition various studies have been implemented to examine the cause of onset and effects of bulimia nervosa. There have also been studies surveying the long-term outcome of bulimia nervosa. These long-term studies have analyzed such relationships as age, employment status, social status and marital status and bulimia nervosa. By using three scientific studies of long-term outcome of bulimia nervosa, this paper will try and evaluate the research obtained and offer critical suggestions to help further studies on this topic.
The first study, "Bulimia nervosa: a 5-year follow-up study," uses a follow up sample of thirty-six patients, which consisted of 72%of the original sample. The original sample was comprised of fifty patients who were consistently referred to the Academic Department of Psychiatry at the Royal Free Hospital. Of the fifty patients, one was male. All of the patients were diagnosed with bulimia nervosa during their initial visit and met DSM-III criteria for bulimia. The ages of the sample ranged from 14 to 40 years with a mean age of 23.5. Also the onset of the disease ranged from 10 to 36 years of age with a mean of 19 years. The follow-up study began no less than five years after their initial visit with an average duration of 5.10 years. The patients were contacted through the mail, and of these fifty patients, 41 were traced, one had died, 5 were unable or refused to participate and 36agreed to participate. The study evaluated the general outcome of each patient, which consisted of three categories: Good outcome, Intermediate outcome and Poor outcome. The poor behavioral outcome group and the intermediate outcome group were combined because the intermediate sample did not contain enough patients for thorough analysis. Patients were assessed on four scales: Eating Attitudes Test (EAT), Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD), Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety (HRSA) and Social Problem Questionnaire (SPQ). The study considered such characteristics as age, employment status, marital status and number of children, alcohol intake, mental health, weight, menstrual status, social class, social outcome, anxiety and depression ratings and eating attitude rating.
Many of the results obtained from this study agreeably compare with those of other studies. Yet, this study points out the difficulty of comparing such studies. The main complication being that the criteria chosen to categorize outcome groups may differ from study to study. Twenty-five percent of the sample still suffered from bulimia nervosa and fulfilled diagnostic criteria of the disease. The number of members in the good outcome group contained 47.2% of the sample. Firstly, the study provides further evidence supporting the view that symptomatically bulimia nervosa improves with time (Johnson-Sabine, 1992). Secondly, this study...