Category: Eating Disorders

PS1- #C71 - Athletes and Eating Disorders: Does a Specialized Treatment for Athletes With Eating Disorders Result in Different Eating Disorder Outcomes?

Friday, Nov 17
8:30 AM – 9:30 AM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Eating Disorders | Anxiety | Psychotherapy Outcome

Eating disorders (EDs) are serious illnesses that account for the highest mortality rate among all mental illness (Harris & Barraclough, 1998). Disordered eating affects up to 20% of female and 8% of male athletes (Martinsen & Sundgot-Borgen, 2013; Sundgot-Borgen & Torstveit, 2010). However, eating disorder treatment programs are not generally tailored to athletes, though recent literature suggests integrating exercise and sport into treatment is beneficial (Cook et al, 2016). The current study tested if patients receiving a specialized treatment designed for athletes with EDs at an intensive ED treatment center differed from patients receiving treatment as usual (TAU) at admission, discharge, and one month follow up. Participants were 382 male and female patients between the ages of 13 and 30 (M = 19.9; SD =4.3) receiving intensive ED treatment. 318 were receiving TAU, and 64 were receiving treatment tailored to athletes, which included addressing exercise and food-related stress, individualizing exercise plans, and debriefing post-workout. Participants completed measures of ED symptomatology, depression, and worry at admission and discharge, and ED symptomatology again at 1 month follow up after treatment discharge. In both groups, ED symptomatology was significantly lower at discharge (ps < .001) and 1 month follow up (ps < .05) than admission, and depression and worry were significantly lower at discharge than admission (ps < .01). Participants in the athlete group had significantly lower ED symptomatology, depression, and worry at admission (ps < .01) and discharge (ps < .01) than participants in the non-athlete group, and an interaction between athletes and worry was found. However, ED symptomatology at 1 month follow up did not differ between groups (p =.14), suggesting that patients in the athlete group had an increase in ED symptomatology after treatment discharge. Results indicate that intensive ED treatment was beneficial for all patients, and that integrating exercise as part of ED treatment may be useful. However, clinicians should consider offering increased support, especially for athletes, after ED treatment.

Laura Fewell

Clinical Outcomes & Research Coordinator
McCallum Place Eating Disorder Treatment Centers
Saint Louis, Missouri

Riley Nickols

Psychologist and Director of the Victory Program
McCallum Place Eating Disorder Treatment Centers

Amanda Schlitzer Tierney

Strength and Conditioning Coach
McCallum Place Eating Disorder Treatment Centers

Cheri A. Levinson

Assistant Professor
The University of Louisville