Background: Dropout from psychotherapy is an important issue that has received little systematic attention. This study investigated the phenomenon of dropout from brief psychotherapy for anorexia nervosa (AN). Methods: 99 outpatients suffering from AN of the restrictor type (n = 53) or binge/purging type (n = 46) were evaluated. Their clinical and personal characteristics were recorded, and body mass index was calculated for participants. They were administered the Eating Disorder Inventory-II (EDI-II), the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory (STAXI) and the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI). Results: Significant differences in some baseline psychopathologic (EDI-II, STAXI) and personality (TCI) variables emerged from the comparison between dropouts and completers. Patients who dropped out of the treatment showed higher levels of anger temperament, anger expression-in and expression-out and lower scores for the dimensions of character (low self-directedness and low cooperativeness). No differences were found between the two groups regarding sociodemographic and clinical variables. Conclusions: Dropout from brief psychotherapy seems to be related to either psychopathologic or personality aspects, such as the tendency to repress anger, which is encountered also in psychosomatic disorders, and the presence of more compromised dimensions of character, typical of subjects with personality disorders. This study of dropout from brief psychotherapy in AN provided interesting results that will need further confirmation. Possible implications for treatment are addressed.
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