Medical Stabilization

Inpatient hospitalization is indicated for patients who have signs of medical instability. Because few specialized eating disorder units exist in the United States, most medically unstable patients are hospitalized on general medical or pediatric units. Specialized eating disorder units have the advantage of staff experienced in treating these illnesses, accompanied by a milieu structured to help patients eat and gain weight. However, one disadvantage of specialized units is that patients may learn new maladaptive eating behaviors from other patients or become identified with having an eating disorder (Honig and Sharman 2000). Although the current clinical opinion is that specialized inpatient treatment is superior to treatment on a general medical or pediatric unit, no convincing research data support this contention (Gowers et al. 2007).

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