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Can involuntary hospitalizations save anorexics' lives?


Healthcare laws differ from country to country when it comes to the hospitalization of patients deemed mentally ill.

In Israel, a new study suggests that involuntary hospitalizations of anorexic individuals are not detrimental to recovery - and outcomes suggest that more lives could be saved if legislation was passed that allows patients to be hospitalized if the anorexia is life-threatening.

"This study confirms previous research findings that the refusal of patients to receive treatment and their perception of the eating disorder may change during treatment, even in cases of the patient receiving treatment against their initial will," said study author Prof. Yael Latzer, from the Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences of the University of Haifa in Israel.

Response to treatment 'good'

Eating disorders in Israel are becoming a serious problem among youth, and Latzer stresses that many anorexic patients lack the sound cognitive ability to make good decisions about their own health.

In the study of 79 patients, Latzer and his team found that both compulsory (forced) and voluntary treatment led to the same positive outcomes.

"Although forced hospitalization is complicated for the patient, their family and the staff, it is sometimes necessary in order to save the patient's life," Latzer said. "It is our duty as a society to provide compulsory treatment to patients until they are once again able to make sound judgments."

University of Haifa