The eating disorders field lacks consensus definitions of remission and recovery. This absence compromises the ability to compare findings and accumulate knowledge across studies, to characterize reliable predictors of remission and recovery, and to identify effective interventions. Also of concern is the focus on physical and behavioral recovery to the exclusion of psychological recovery in most eating disorder recovery research. The explicit goal of this study is to test and refine standardized definitions of remissin and recovery from an eating disorder, with a core focus on physical and behavioral recovery to achieve remission and the addition of psychological health to achieve recovery. To achieve this goal, this study will examine two samples of eating disorder patients: a sample from the UNC Eating Disorders Program and a sample from the Duke Center for Eating Disorders. Eating disorder patients seen for treatment at these sites will be recruited, along with controls, to participate in a longitudinal study involving questionnaires, an interview, a neurocognitive battery, and biomarker assessments. The primary objectives are: 1) To test and refine definitions of eating disorder remission and recovery focusing on physical, behavioral, and psychological domains;2) To examine how recovered individuals compare with controls, remitted individuals, and individuals with an eating disorder diagnosis (anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa) on personality (e.g., perfectionism), neurocognitive, and biological factors with possible etiological or maintenance relevance;and 3) To begin to identify predictors of eating disorder remission and recovery using the longitudinal framework. Results of this project have the potential to provide evidence-informed recommendations for consensus definitions of remission and recovery that are critical to advance the field of treatment research and disorder pathophysiology by producing more coherent recovery research across programs, clarifying the nature of recovery, facilitating the identification of reliable predictors of remission, recovery, nd relapse, and providing useful information for health care professionals and their patients.
By producing empirically-derived definitions of eating disorder remission and recovery using physical, behavioral, and psychological criteria, this research will clarify the trajectories and possible outcomes for eating disorder patients, their families, and health care professionals and provide clear targets for treatment studies. The identification of factors associated with and predictive of remission and recovery will have implications for the development and modification of treatment interventions.