Resources for healthcare professionals
Welcome to our eating disorders page for healthcare professionals. Here you’ll find a range of useful tools, resources, links and guides.
You can download a copy of the information for staff and partners leaflet for more details on the service.
If you’re looking to make a referral to either our community or inpatient services, please visit our service page where you’ll find out how to do this.
Eating Disorders Screening Tool
A screening tool for eating disorders called the SCOFF Questionnaire has been developed by John Morgan at Leeds Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust. This questionnaire uses five simple screening questions and has been validated in specialist and primary care settings as a reliable screening tool for detecting the existence of Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa in primary or secondary care settings.
A score of 2 or more indicates that there is an 80% chance that the individual has either Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa and that further assessment by specialist eating disorders services is indicated.
How to spot an eating disorder and early intervention
We’ve been involved in developing a short video to help GPs to recognise and help people with eating disorders access treatment as early as possible.
Physical health monitoring
Monitoring of physical risk is a crucial part of treatment for individuals with eating disorders and treatment with CONNECT is contingent on regular physical health monitoring by the individuals GP. CONNECT works closely with primary care services to ensure that GPs are aware of:
- what physical health monitoring is required
- the frequency of physical health monitoring required in each individual case and how this links in with other aspects of an individual’s care plan
- what actions are required if and when concerns are raised
- how to seek advice and consultation if required
A physical health screening assessment should include a minimum of:
- body mass index (BMI) (weight/height2)
- blood investigations (full blood count, urea and electrolytes, phosphate, glucose, creatine kinase, liver function tests)
- tests for proximal myopathy (stand-up, squat test)
- examination of blood pressure (erect and supine), pulse and core temperature
- an electrocardiogram (ECG)
The screening assessment should be completed and interpreted in conjunction with the Physical Risk in Eating Disorders Index (PREDIX) (Table 1), which categorises service users into moderate- or high-risk groups on the basis of the clinical history, physical examination and laboratory investigations. Features from the history that indicate a higher level of physical risk include rapid weight loss (>1 kg/week), excessive exercise at low weight, evidence of infection, symptoms of dehydration, haematemesis, pregnancy and comorbid physical conditions. Cardiovascular symptoms and signs are particularly pertinent, as cardiac arrhythmia is an important cause of death. Urgent medical admission should be considered for service users who fall into the high-risk category as per MARSIPAN (2014) guidelines. A medical admission should also be considered for patients in the moderate-risk group, especially if the level of risk is increasing. However, some patients in the moderate-risk group can often be safely managed in a specialist eating disorders unit (SEDU) or in the community with support from the CONNECT community and outreach service. Decisions regarding physical risk should also take into account the service user’s capacity to consent to treatment, motivation to change and availability of local resources.
Table 1. Physical Risk Management in Individuals with Eating Disorders (PREDIX) (Jones et al, 2013)
|SYSTEM||TEST/INVESTIGATION||MODERATE RISK||HIGH RISK|
Rate of weight loss
|Cardiovascular system||Blood pressure
|Musculoskeletal||Stand up or sit up test (proximal myopathy)||Grade 2||Grade 0-1|
|Bone marrow||White cell count
|Concern if outside normal limits||<2.0 x 109/l
<1.0 x 109/l
<110 x 109/l
|Biochemistry & Liver Function||Potassium
|Concern if outside normal limits||<2.5 mmol/l
Corrected QT interval (QTc)
|<50 bpm||<40 bpm
Evaluation of physical risk in eating disorders should be seen as a longitudinal process, with medical monitoring a cornerstone in longer-term care, alongside standard psychological and social interventions. Ongoing physical risk monitoring should include a minimum of:
- blood investigations (full blood count, urea and electrolytes, liver function tests, phosphate, magnesium, calcium, glucose, bicarbonate).
For advice and consultation on physical health monitoring, healthcare professionals from primary and secondary care services should contact the service user’s lead professional for further guidance
‘Management of Really Sick Patients with Anorexia Nervosa’ (MARSIPAN)
Eating disorders encompass physical, psychological and social pathologies that increase risk. Eating disorders cause significant psychiatric morbidity and the adverse physical consequences of dieting, weight loss and purging can sometimes prove fatal with anorexia nervosa having the highest mortality of any psychiatric. In response to these concerns the Royal College of Psychiatrists published the “Management of Really Sick Patients with Anorexia Nervosa” (MARSIPAN) report (2014) which provides guidance on:
- standards of physical assessment for eating disorders
- criteria for admission to both medical units and specialist eating disorder units as well as non-specialist psychiatric units and criteria for transfer between services
- the development of MARSIPAN pathways and a MARSIPAN expert working group for every hospital which admits patients with eating disorders.
- the medical, nutritional and psychiatric management of service users with eating disorders in medical units, including the appropriate use of mental health legislation
- commissioning of services for MARSIPAN service users
CONNECT MARSIPAN pathways
CONNECT provides a consistent approach to MARSIPAN across the West Yorkshire and Harrogate region and formalised MARSIPAN pathways and expert working groups have been developed through partnership arrangements with local mental health providers, primary care services and local acute hospital providers in each of the following delivery areas:
East catchment area
- Leeds: Gastroenterology team, J91/92, Bexley Wing, St James University Hospital.
- Wakefield and Dewsbury: Gastroenterology team, W44, Pinderfields General Hospital.
- Harrogate: Gastroenterology team, Harrogate District Hospital
West catchment area
- Bradford and Airedale: Gastroenterology team, Bradford Royal Infirmary and Airedale General Hospital.
- Calderdale and Huddersfield: Gastroenterology team, Calderdale Royal Hospital and Huddersfield Royal Infirmary
An urgent MARSIPAN admission, i.e. admission to a local medical ward for stabilisation of physical risk, should be considered if an individual meets any of the criteria outlined in Table 2. All MARSIPAN referrals should be made to the receiving medical team using the CONNECT MARSIPAN referral form.
Table 2. Criteria for a MARSIPAN admission
|Acute medical risk||Clinical Presentation|
|Starvation with high risk of sudden cardiac death and re-feeding syndrome||BMI <13
Recent weight loss of ≥1 kg for 2 consecutive weeks
Little or no nutrition for >5 days
|Serious abnormalities in blood parameters||Na <130 mmol/L
K <3.0 mmol/L
Neutrophils<1.0 x 109/L
Raised transaminases (>5 x normal upper limit)
Glucose <3.0 mmol/L
Raised urea or creatinine
|Other symptoms or signs indicating a high level of physical risk||Cardiovascular symptoms (e.g. palpitations, chest pain, postural dizziness, collapse)
Heart rate <40bpm
Core temperature <35°C
Serious ECG abnormalities (e.g. QTc >450 ms)
If a MARSIPAN admission is required for a CONNECT service user they will receive weekly support from their lead professional whilst they are on the medical ward. In addition to this a senior doctor from the CONNECT team will provide advice and consultation to the medical and liaison psychiatry teams if required. Recommended medical treatment options for MARSIPAN patients are outlined in Table 3.
Table 3. Medical treatment options for MARSIPAN patients
|Acute medical risk||Setting||Recommended treatment|
|Starvation with high risk of sudden cardiac death or re-feeding syndrome||Gastroenterology ward||Nasogastric feeding
Liaison Psychiatry support
CONNECT Inreach support
|Serious abnormalities in blood parameters||Gastroenterology or medical ward
|Stabilisation of physical risk
Liaison Psychiatry support
CONNECT Inreach support
|Other symptoms or signs indicating a high level of physical risk||Gastroenterology or medical ward
|Stabilisation of physical risk Liaison Psychiatry support
CONNECT Inreach support
CONNECT Advice and Consultation Service
The CONNECT community teams have a team of link workers who support local community mental health teams (CMHTs) to provide a tier 1 level advice and consultation service which allows CMHT-based mental health practitioners and allied health professionals to provide safe and effective evidence-based treatment (e.g. guided self-help) for individuals who 1) do not meet CONNECT referral criteria or 2) have been discharged from CONNECT after a period of treatment.
As part of the tier 1 level advice and consultation service CONNECT encourages the use of evidence-based guided self-help and endorses the use of the following resources which service users, carers and health professionals may find beneficial:
- Overcoming anorexia nervosa (Freeman and Cooper, 2009). Little Brown Book Group.
- Overcoming bulimia self-help course: A self-help practical manual using cognitive behavioural techniques (3 Book Set) (Cooper, 2007). Robinson.
- Overcoming Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating: A Guide to Recovery (Cooper, 1993). Robinson.
- The Invisible Man: A Self-help Guide for Men with Eating Disorders, Compulsive Exercise and Bigorexia (Morgan, 2008). Routledge.
- Skilled-based learning for caring for a loved one with an eating disorder: The new Maudsley method (Treasure, Smith and Crane, 2007). Routledge.
Each region of the West Yorkshire and Harrogate catchment area will have an identified link worker from the local CONNECT community team who:
- provides regular supervision to mental health practitioners and allied health professionals about eating disorder cases
- regular training to CMHT staff on eating disorders, guided self-help and local care pathways
- advice and consultation on accessing the CONNECT service and local MARSIPAN pathways
General websites and useful resources
- Beat Eating Disorders (BEAT) website
- NICE guidelines for Eating Disorders
- Management of Really Sick Patients with Anorexia Nervosa (MARSIPAN)
- The Royal College of Psychiatrists – Faculty of Eating Disorders
- Driving and Eating Disorders – Information for Service Users
- Social media and eating disorders
Latest research and evidence
First Episode and Rapid Early Intervention for Eating Disorders (FREED)
CONNECT is one of only four sites in the UK to be involved in the national FREED study. It went live in Leeds in January 2017 in association with South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), the Health Foundation, and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, where the team is being led by Professor Ulrike Schmidt.
FREED stands for ‘First Episode and Rapid Early Intervention Service for Young Adults with Eating Disorders’ and is an early intervention pilot service for young people aged 18 to 25 who have developed an eating disorder within the last three years.
As part of FREED, assessments and treatment are streamlined for early intervention cases as follows:
- the service makes initial contact with the service user by phone or email within 48 hours of receiving the completed referral form to explore the person’s views on treatment and to arrange an initial assessment
- the offer of an initial assessment within 2-4 weeks
- commencement of evidence-based treatment within 2-4 weeks following assessment
- separate FREED therapy groups (MANTRA and CBT-ED)
In addition to this the service has a dedicated FREED champion who supports the 4 CONNECT teams in managing the FREED pathway and ensuring that the FREED principles of early intervention, engagement and carers support is upheld across the entire CONNECT service.
Previous studies have shown that the FREED early intervention service model speeds up treatment for eating disorders and has a wide range of benefits, including:
- shorter waiting times
- reducing dropout rates
- promoting more rapid recovery and improved prognosis
- increased service user and carer satisfaction.
The FREED study is due to finish in November 2018. However the study has been such a success that the FREED model has been incorporated and upscaled as part of the new CONNECT service.
For more information on FREED visit www.freedfromed.co.uk
You can download a full list of publications including original research, policy documents, books and book chapters and training modules.
Training and supervision
We can offer the following training and supervision to health care professionals:
- formal training and supervision to primary care and secondary care professionals to manage eating disorders in primary care/community in line with the NICE (2017) and MARSIPAN (2014) guidelines.
- formal training and supervision to acute providers on Management of Really Sick Patients with Anorexia (MARSIPAN) and support in developing regional and national MARSIPAN pathways
- support to develop clinical guidelines and resources including information leaflets and self-help packages
- consultation in complex cases, where an eating disorder is part of the co-morbidity of an individual’s presentation
- training programmes for improving health professionals’ knowledge of eating disorders for timely detection and referrals to appropriate services.
Media and working with journalists
Our expert clinicians work closely with the media to promote public education, training and awareness of eating disorders. We’ve worked with the BBC, ITV, Sky News, the Guardian, the Times and the Yorkshire Evening Post. Here are a few recent examples:
- Nigel Owens: Bulimia and Me – BBC documentary about male eating disorders broadcast July 2017
- FREED and early intervention – Yorkshire Evening Post
- Eating disorders awareness week 2018 – Yorkshire Evening Post
If you work for a media organisation and you’re interested in eating disorders, you can find out more on how to contact us through our Media page.