Involuntary hospitalization of patients with anorexia nervosa in a severe condition is not detrimental to their recovery process and achieves similar positive results to those of patients who were willingly hospitalized. This is according to a new study conducted by the University of Haifa. “This finding is very significant and should be a milestone for further legislation of the bill allowing forced treatment of anorexia patients whose lives are at risk, which passed its initial reading in February, 2012. The bill will make the difference between life and death for these patients,” said Prof. Yael Latzer of the Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences of the University of Haifa.
Anorexia nervosa affects 0.5%-1% of women during their lifetimes, and about one tenth that number of men, putting the lives of patients with anorexia at risk in severe cases of the illness. Even when the condition of patients is life-threatening, they are not defined under the Treatment of Mental Patients Law of 1991 as mentally ill and cannot be hospitalized involuntarily, even if they refuse to willingly enter an inpatient program in order to receive treatment. In extreme cases the court may appoint a guardian, usually a parent, who can agree to the involuntary hospitalization of the patient — a process that results in very few patients actually being forcibly hospitalized, and even then they can leave treatment after there has been certain improvement in their condition.
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