The latest guideline from SIGN covers the management of people with eating disorders in any healthcare setting

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The Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) has just announced the publication of its most recent guideline, SIGN 164: Eating disorders. The new guideline provides recommendations for healthcare professionals on best practice in the management of people of all ages and gender groups with eating disorders, in any health or social care setting, and covers:

  • anorexia nervosa
  • bulimia nervosa
  • binge eating disorder
  • eating-disordered psychopathology occurring in the context of type 1 diabetes mellitus.

The guideline emphasises the importance of cognitive behavioural therapy for treating eating disorders, while also covering topics including:

  • early intervention
  • support for families and carers
  • achieving and maintaining recovery
  • medication
  • attending to the needs of diverse communities.

More research needed

Dr Jane Morris, Chair of the guideline development group, and Consultant Psychiatrist, Royal Cornhill Hospital, commented on the guideline and the current state of eating disorder research more generally: ‘It is crucial that mental illness is given parity of esteem with physical disorders, so we were keen to engage with the highly respected SIGN methodology to identify the best evidenced treatments for people living with eating disorders.

‘We scrutinised research on treatments for the various different eating disorders, and also explored how such treatments need to be tailor-made for the diversity of age, life stage, gender, ethnicity and geographical and social circumstances of those who experience them.

‘One of the most striking pieces of evidence is that there has been far too little good quality research undertaken into eating disorders. In addition to calling for further clinical trials, I encourage everyone in the field to submit audits, service evaluations, and case histories for publication in reputable journals so that they can inform future care.’

A step forward for eating disorder support

As many as 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder, as reported by eating disorder charity, Beat. Eating disorders are also widely considered the most fatal mental health conditions. Commenting on the publication of the new guideline, Alison Thomson, Executive Director (Nursing), Mental Welfare Commission, said:

‘We really welcome this guidance, which we had been seeking as one of the recommendations in our report, Hope for the Future, which looked at care, treatment, and support for people with eating disorders in Scotland.

Ms Thomson continued that the publication of the SIGN guideline ’is a significant step forward, and a good example of how a recommendation made by the Mental Welfare Commission can make a difference.

’’he next stage will be to ensure that the guidelines are followed and a range of treatments and therapies become available to people across the country.’

Read the related Guidelines in Practice article, Recognise and support patients with eating disorders, to learn more about how to treat patients with eating disorders in primary care.

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