Early intervention approaches have been introduced for some psychiatric disorders, notably psychosis where the model has been strongly endorsed.
This article will review the definition and rationale for early intervention, considering whether such a model is applicable for use in the eating disorders.
A narrative review was conducted of literature relevant to early intervention concepts in eating disorders.
In contrast to the well-developed literature on early intervention in psychosis, the eating disorder field has been slow to carry out pertinent studies. There are no studies focusing on outcomes in first episode cases of anorexia or bulimia nervosa. However, the prevention literature suggests programs targeting known risk factors may allow some individuals to avoid developing these illnesses.
Whilst existing research provides preliminary indication that early intervention for eating disorders may be useful, not enough is known about the variables critical for ensuring good outcomes. Much can be learned from the field of early psychosis, including development of methodology and research networks. For prodromal and partial cases, school and primary care-based personnel may be well placed to assist in the early identification of cases, but this will require additional training and support.
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