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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

RCPsych Eating Disorders Section Annual Conference 2012


Bursary opportunities

Eating Disorders Section My experience with psychiatry as a specialty during medical school focussed mainly on general adult and inpatient psychiatry – eating disorders were simply not a huge focus on the curriculum. So when bursary opportunities became available for the Eating Disorders Section Annual Conference, I was lucky enough to be successful in my application to attend.



High profile speakers               

This year’s conference focussed on the medical manifestations and management of eating disorders, with several high profile speakers in attendance.

The first section discussed bone health in those with eating disorders. Dr Sanjeev Patel (Consultant rheumatologist at Epsom & St Helier’s NHST) ran through the pathophysiology of what to expect in women with eating disorders and covered medical interventions for the ensuing osteoarthritis and osteopenia as an adjunct to psychiatric interventions.


Dr Debra Katzman from the Hospital for Sick Children at the University of Toronto summised that transdermal oestrogens are more effective than the oral equivalent for bone health in those with eating disorders. Overall, the evidence base presented showed clear long-term health benefits through bone interventions in the eating disorder population.


The second section saw Professor Rona Moss-Morris from the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London map a CBT approach of irritable bowel syndrome onto the treatment of eating disorders, drawing several similarities between the cognitive processes in these two, seemingly different, patient populations.


Professor Helen Mason from St George’s, University of London presented her work on the use of pelvic ultrasound as a staging tool in the recovery from eating disorders in women. The results were very promising, correlating endometrial thickness with the stage of the disease.



Functional neurobiology of pleasure     

The delegates were treated to an inspiring talk from Professor Morten Kringelbach (University of Oxford and Aarhus, Denmark), where he presented his internationally renowned work on the functional neurobiology of pleasure. He suggested ways in which his work and methodologies could be used to understand the cognitive challenges that eating disorder sufferers must endure.


...this should not be seen as a quick fix in the way that lobotomies once were.

In an appropriate digression, Professor Kringelbach also explored the future of therapeutic deep brain stimulation in psychiatry, but also warned that this should not be seen as a quick fix in the way that lobotomies once were.



Into the unknown

Resources for eating disordersThe day concluded with presentations from large multi-centre treatment trials for anorexia nervosa. Interventions compared ‘best supportive treatment’ to experimental talking therapies and different types of family therapies.


The conference was well run and drew on some enthralling speakers. Debates that followed presentations were often lively and intellectually stimulating. The only negative would be that I am now even more confused about which higher speciality I want to pursue in the future!


This conference offered an opportunity to experience a sub-speciality of psychiatry that few get to see during their undergraduate training. I strongly recommend RCPsych Student Associates to pursue any bursaries on offer to attend events like these. They really are valuable and allow you to gain an insight into the relatively unknown parts of the speciality.



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Re: RCPsych Eating Disorders S
It was interesting to see the CBT approach in regards to eating disorders, from my experience it has not be very successful in UK teens. We have adopted this approach with eating disorders but with very limited success. I will say that in regards to teen self harm/cutting we have seen more positive results.
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About this blog


Kaanthan Jawahar, Foundation Year 1 Doctor

Kaanthan Jawahar is a Foundation Year 1 Doctor at Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust