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Transition across eating disorder diagnoses is common, reflecting instability of specific eating disorder presentations. Previous studies have examined temporal stability of diagnoses in adult treatment-seeking samples but have not uniformly captured initial presentation for treatment. The current study examines transitions across eating disorder diagnostic categories in a large, treatment-seeking sample of individuals born in Sweden and compares these transitions across two birth cohorts and from initial diagnosis.
Data from Swedish eating disorders quality registers were extracted in 2013, including 9622 individuals who were seen at least twice from 1999 to 2013. Patterns of remission were examined in the entire sample and subsequently compared across initial diagnoses. An older (born prior to 1990) and younger birth cohort were also identified, and analyses compared these cohorts on patterns of diagnostic transition.
Although diagnostic instability was common, transition between threshold eating disorder diagnoses was infrequent. For all diagnoses, transition to remission was likely to occur following a diagnosis state that matched initial diagnosis, or through a subthreshold diagnostic state. Individuals in the younger cohort were more likely to transition to a state of remission than those in the older cohort.
Results indicate more temporal continuity in eating disorder presentations than suggested by previous research and highlight the importance of early detection and intervention in achieving remission.
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