Why the high rate of dropout from individualized cognitive-behavior therapy for bulimia nervosa?

Zachary Steel*, Jennifer Jones, Sylvia Adcock, Rosemary Clancy, Leanne Bridgford-West, Jordi Austin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


Object: To investigate predictors of dropout from cognitive-behavior therapy for bulimia nervosa. Method: Pretreatment assessment measures were examined including the Eating Disorder Inventory-2, Body Satisfaction Questionnaire, Beck Depression Inventory, Beck Hopelessness Scale, the Locus of Control of Behavior Scale, and demographic and behavioral measures. Results: Forty-three percent (n = 14) of clients with a DSM-IV diagnosis of bulimia nervosa dropped out of treatment prematurely. No differences were found between treatment completers and dropouts with respect to the initial severity of bulimia-related symptoms. Noncompleters were, however, found to have significantly higher depression and hopelessness scores as well as elevated levels of external locus of control. Discriminate analysis showed that these variables resulted in a 90% prediction accuracy of individuals who prematurely dropped out of treatment. Discussion: Results suggest a need to focus treatment directly on factors such as hopelessness and depression in addition to standard bulimia procedures to ensure clients are able to engage in therapy. (C) 2000 by John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-214
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Bulimia
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Discriminate analysis
  • Predictors
  • Treatment dropout


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