Anorexia nervosa is the most common eating disorder among adolescents in the US. (Shutterstock)
Anorexia nervosa is the most common eating disorder among adolescents in the US. (Shutterstock)

Even if anorexics need professional help, they don’t always want it. And while the common belief is that forced intervention won’t be of assistance, a new study from the University of Haifa has found that involuntary hospitalization brought the same results as voluntary hospitalization.

Moreover, the study shows that involuntary treatment is not detrimental to the recovery process despite claims otherwise.

“This finding should be a milestone for further legislation of compulsory treatment for patients with Anorexia Nervosa, which passed its initial reading in February, 2012. Legislation of this bill will make the difference between life and death for these patients,” said Professor Yael Latzer of the Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences of the University of Haifa and director of the Eating Disorders Clinic at Rambam Medical Center.

Research student Adit Zohr-Beja and Dr. Eitan Gur from the Eating Disorders Department, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, also took part in the study.

The researchers sought to examine claims concerning the ineffectiveness of involuntary hospitalization and examined whether there is a difference in outcome between patients in extreme condition who were forcibly hospitalized and those who were hospitalized willingly.

The study showed that compulsory treatment and voluntary treatment both led to the same positive outcome. According to the researchers, despite the declared reluctance to receive treatment of those involuntarily hospitalized, their response to treatment was good.

“This study confirms previous research findings that the refusal of patients to receive treatment and their perception of the eating disorder may change during treatment, even in cases of the patient receiving treatment against their initial will. Although forced hospitalization is complicated for the patient, their family and the staff, it is sometimes necessary in order to save the patient’s life. It is our duty as a society to provide compulsory treatment to patients until they are once again able to make sound judgments,”said Professor Latzer.