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BACKGROUND: The stability of eating disorder diagnoses has received little research attention. AIMS: To examine the course of the full range of clinical eating disorders. METHOD: A sample of 192 women with a current DSM-IV eating disorder (55 with anorexia nervosa,108 with bulimia nervosa and 29 with eating disorder not otherwise specified) were assessed three times over 30 months using a standardised interview. RESULTS: Although the overarching category of "eating disorder" was relatively stable, the stability of the three specific eating disorder diagnoses was low, with just a third of participants retaining their original diagnosis. This was due only in part to remission since the remission rate was low across all three diagnoses. CONCLUSIONS: There is considerable diagnostic flux within the eating disorders but a low overall remission rate. This suggests that underpinning their psychopathology may be common biological and psychological causal and maintaining processes.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Psychiatry

Publication Date





573 - 578


Adolescent, Adult, Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Cathartics, Diagnostic Errors, Feeding and Eating Disorders, Female, Humans, Middle Aged, Prospective Studies, Psychotherapy, Remission Induction, Time Factors, Treatment Outcome, Vomiting