The compulsory treatment of people with severe eating disorders is considered controversial. The motivation to change is seen as an essential requirement for successful treatment and only a few places are prepared to treat people against their will. There is concern that compulsory treatment can undermine patients' independence and lead to worse outcomes to their treatment. A three-year study of 50 people with anorexia, admitted to the Wedgwood Unit in Stafford, compared detained patients with those being treated voluntarily. The detained patients had become ill at an earlier age and had been hospitalised more often. When admitted they were doing worse than voluntary patients, were more depressed and had more suicidal thoughts. However, both groups improved significantly once they had been admitted to the unit and by the time they were discharged there was no significant difference between them. Two of the voluntary patients died within a year of discharge; none of those who were compulsorily detained did.
Ayton, Agnes, Keen, Catherine, Lask, Bryan - Pros and cons of using the Mental Health Act for severe eating disorders in adolescents European Eating Disorder Review, 17(1), 14-24