Journal article

Application of Prochaska's transtheoretical model of change to patients with eating disorders


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  • 2004
Published in:
  • Journal of Psychosomatic Research. - Elsevier BV. - 2004, vol. 57, no. 1, p. 67-72
English Objective: Although eating disorders cause severe somatic and psychological sequelae, a majority of affected patients are not motivated for treatment. The aim of this study was to assess stages of change in patients with eating disorders and to analyze their correlations with clinical characteristics and treatment processes using Prochaska's transtheoretical model of change.

Methods: A consecutive sample (N=88) including outpatients suffering from anorexia (n=29), bulimia (n=32), and eating disorders not otherwise specified (n=27) was recruited from an eating disorders clinic with a low-threshold access. The patients' readiness to change their eating behavior was assessed by a self-rating scale (URICA), and a score for each participant on each subscale (precontemplation, contemplation, action) was derived from the scale. Patients were introduced to a set of eight treatment processes over the course of four treatment sessions. During the four sessions, therapists rated whether or not patients appeared to be using each of the treatment processes.

Results: While diagnostic subtype, age, illness duration, and previous treatments were not associated with motivational stages, self-referral was positively correlated to treatment motivation. Emotional involvement, specific behavioral change processes, and beginning a continuing treatment were correlated with more advanced stages of change.

Conclusion: This study supports the notion of the stages of change as an independent dimension that is relevant for the treatment of eating disorders. The lack of impact of previous, presumably nonspecific treatments on the stages of change underlines the importance to assess and to improve specifically patients' motivation. Therapeutic work towards the mobilisation of emotions with regard to their eating problem as a means to improve readiness to change should be examined in future studies.
Faculté des sciences et de médecine
Master en médecine
  • English
Pathology, clinical medicine
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