The emotional-behavioral state of Israeli adolescent and young adult females with anorexia nervosa during the COVID19 pandemic

Yaffa Serur, Hadar Dikstein, Tal Shilton, Doron Gothelf, Yael Latzer, Yael Lewis, Adi Enoch-Levy, Itai Pessach, Eitan Gur, Daniel Stein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel, the number of patients with eating disorders (EDs) seeking treatment increased significantly. The present study sought to evaluate whether, during the pandemic (2020–21), patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) would show more ED-related, comorbid, and COVID-19-related symptoms in comparison to a naturalistic control group, and whether differences would be found between adult and adolescent patients with AN. We also examined attitudes to telemedicine use during the pandemic in patients receiving long-distance interventions. Methods: Using online self-report questionnaires, we assessed general and COVID-19-specific symptoms with a secure digital platform (REDCap®) in 36 female adolescents with AN, 35 female adults with AN, and 25 female controls. Results: Compared with controls, patients with AN showed more symptoms of EDs, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), elevated suicidal ideation, more COVID-related emotional-behavioral disturbances, and lower resilience. Adult patients with AN fared worse than adolescent patients on most of these measures. Adult patients using telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic showed fewer positive attitudes toward this treatment than adolescents (telemedicine was offered to all, but used by 18/35 adolescents and 21/36 adults with AN). Last, elevated COVID-19-related symptomatology was correlated with more symptoms of ED, anxiety, depression and PTSD, and with lower resilience. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the emotional-behavioral state of Israeli females with AN, particularly adults, was worse during the COVID-19 pandemic in comparison to controls. Many patients did not use telemedicine for their treatment. Adult patients using telemedicine were less satisfied with it than adolescent patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number145
JournalJournal of Eating Disorders
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Age
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • COVID-19
  • Eating disorders
  • Females
  • Pandemic

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