• Clinicians' perspectives on supporting individuals with severe anorexia nervosa in specialist eating disorder intensive treatment settings

      Arcelus, Jon (2022)
      BACKGROUND: Admissions to intensive treatment (i.e., inpatient [IP] and/or day patient [DP]) for individuals with severe anorexia nervosa (AN) are common. Growing literature indicates potential risks and benefits of each intensive treatment approach; however, existing research has focused on patient and carer perspectives of these treatments. Also, there is scant empirical evidence available for guiding the parameters of intensive treatments for AN. We therefore explored clinicians' perspectives and experience of supporting adults with severe AN in intensive settings. METHODS: We conducted twenty one semi-structured interviews with clinicians who deliver intensive treatments (i.e., IP and/or DP) for individuals with severe AN across four specialist Eating Disorder Services in the United Kingdom between May 2020 and June 2021. We asked clinicians about their views and experiences of supporting individuals with severe AN in intensive treatment settings and the challenges and opportunities associated with IP and DP treatment. Data were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis supported by NVivo software. RESULTS: Five broad and interrelated themes were identified: (1) Intensive Support; (2) The Severity of Patients' Illnesses; (3) Hope and Recovery; (4) Which Treatment When; (5) Limited Resources; and (6) Carer Burden. We identified various similarities between the two intensive treatment approaches, including the value of intensive and multidisciplinary support and carer involvement, and the challenge of managing complex and unique needs in resource-limited intensive settings. We also found differences in the relationship of treatment to patients' home environments, the necessity of patient motivation, and the management of risk. CONCLUSIONS: Both intensive treatment settings are valued by clinicians; however, there are unique challenges and opportunities for supporting individuals with severe AN within each. Our findings suggest DP treatment may be used as an alternative to IP treatment for individuals with severe AN. However, clear questions remain over which intensive treatment setting is best suited to which patient when and should be the focus of future research. Some people with anorexia nervosa will need intensive treatment (e.g., inpatient and day patient treatment) during the course of their illness. We interviewed twenty-one clinicians working in Specialist Eating Disorder Services to explore their views on supporting people with severe anorexia nervosa in inpatient and day patient services and about the perceived advantages and disadvantages of these. We analysed the transcripts of these interviews using thematic analysis. We identified similarities between the two intensive treatment approaches. These included the value of intensive and multidisciplinary support, the importance of carer involvement, and the challenge of managing patient’s complex and unique needs in services with limited resources. We also found differences between inpatient and day patient treatment. These included how treatment relates to patients’ home environments, the importance of patient motivation, and managing risk. Day patient treatment may be an alternative to inpatient treatment for people with severe anorexia nervosa. Future research should investigate which intensive treatment setting is best suited to which patient and when.