Detection, treatment, and course of eating disorders in Finland: A population-based study of adolescent and young adult females and males

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Objective We assessed the detection, treatment and outcomes of DSM-5 eating disorders in a nationwide community setting.

Method The FinnTwin12 cohort comprises twins born in 1983-1987 in Finland (n = 5,600), with follow-up starting at age 12. We outline treatment and outcomes of the 127 females and 15 males diagnosed with a lifetime DSM-5 eating disorder in interviews conducted for a subsample (n = 1,347) in their early 20s.

Results Only 45 (32%) of those diagnosed with eating disorder in the interviews had their condition detected in healthcare, and even fewer received treatment (30% of females, 13% of males). Anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa, and atypical AN were detected and treated more often than other eating disorders. Five years after disease onset, 41% of those diagnosed had recovered. There were no statistically significant differences in the course of different eating disorders (log-rank p = 0.66) but the outcome was more favourable among males (log-rank p = 0.008). The likelihood of 5-year recovery did not differ between those who had and who had not received treatment (41.1% vs. 40.5%, log-rank p = 0.66).

Conclusion Although eating disorders are common and symptoms are persistent for many, they remain under-diagnosed and under-treated. In real-world settings, effectiveness of provided treatments may be limited.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Eating Disorders Review
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)720-732
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 5
  • DSM&#8208
  • MEN
  • course
  • detection
  • eating disorders
  • treatment
  • 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health

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