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Increased emergency department use by adolescents and young adults with eating disorders

Authors

  • Suzanne Dooley-Hash MD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
    2. The Center for Eating Disorders, Ann Arbor, Michigan
    • Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
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  • Sarah K. Lipson MEd,

    1. Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education, School of Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
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  • Maureen A. Walton MPH, PhD,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
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  • Rebecca M. Cunningham MD

    1. Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
    2. Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Michigan Injury Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan
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  • Conflict of Interest: There are no conflicts of interest to report for any of the study authors.

  • Supported by AA018122 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Abstract

Objective:

This study describes patterns of emergency department (ED) utilization by patients who screen positive for eating disorders.

Method:

ED patients aged 14–20 years (n = 1,920) completed a computerized questionnaire. The analyses compared the rates of ED use between patients who screened positive for an eating disorder and those who did not and examined the reasons for ED use amongst patients with eating disorders.

Results:

ED patients who screened positive for eating disorders were significantly more likely to have previously visited the ED and, on average, utilized the ED at a rate 1.6 times higher than patients who screen negative for eating disorders. The most common chief complaints among patients who screen positive for eating disorders were abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal-related problems.

Discussion:

Patients with eating disorders utilize the ED more frequently than those without and commonly present for complaints seemingly unrelated to their eating disorder. © 2012 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2013)

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