The results of a new study support the principles of the Newbridge approach, with the focus on treating the whole person, not just the anorexia.

The study assessed the effectiveness of treatment when the goals were refocused from being primarily about weight gain, to quality of life issues such as mood regulation and overall social functioning.

It found the rate for patients engaging and remaining with treatment was almost three times higher than expected levels.

Although weight gain was not the primary target, most patients gained weight and none lost any weight during the study period. Progress was noted as being “moderate” or “large” for all patients, with improvements in symptoms, overall mood regulation and social participation recorded.

The study was led by Professor Hubert Lacey, medical director for Newbridge House, who is also Professor Emeritus, University of London. The patients in the study were adults being treated in London, Chicago and Sydney.

He comments: “This was a different patient group to our patients at Newbridge House. The study focused on a group we know are very difficult to treat – adults with severe and enduring anorexia.

“However, the findings of this study have transferable value to other services. At Newbridge House, we have always worked on the principle of treating the whole person and affecting psychological change in order for weight gain and recovery to be lasting.

“We know that motivation for change is extremely important and this is something we focus on very clearly at Newbridge House. The study also shows the importance of broader lifestyle factors, such as social functioning and mood regulation in treatment programmes.

“One of the strengths at Newbridge House is the group programme and the occupational therapy team who, together with all the other multi-disciplinary professionals, ensure we focus on supporting the young person to function better in their life as a whole, rather than having a treatment programme narrowly focused on the illness and weight gain.

“It is pleasing that in the feedback we receive from parents, many talk about Newbridge giving them the tools to cope with the challenges of life in a broader sense; we can only treat the anorexia effectively if support the whole person, enabling them to interpret the world differently and to fulfill their potential.”

The study conducted by researchers from St George’s, University of London, the University of Sydney and the University of Chicago – was published online by the journal Psychological Medicine in May 2013 and the full text can be found here.