Treating bulimia nervosa: A nurse's experience using cognitive behavior therapy

Chiu Min Huang, Chia Jung Hsieh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper focused on the experience of the authors in providing nursing care to a patient with bulimia nervosa who sought psychiatric assistance upon her first episode. The nursing period spanned a period from April 21, 2008 to June 16, 2008. After primary diagnosis, relevant data was collected by observation, interview, and a review of medical records. The patient's disease was assessed from five dimensions. Care problems faced for this patient included: altered nutrition profile, abnormal eating patterns, ineffective individual coping, and body image disturbance. The authors adopted a three-stage nursing intervention based on cognitive behavior theory (CBT). First, a caring attitude was employed to establish a good nurse-patient relationship, after which the patient was instructed to maintain a diet diary, which could be used to help identify the underlying causes of her bulimia nervosa condition. Secondly, we assisted the patient to express her emotions and feelings in order to help her disentangle herself from unhealthy perceptions regarding body image and weight. Thirdly, we assisted the patient to develop critical problem-solving abilities and coping skills that would help avoid symptom recurrence. We followed up on patient progress by telephone for one month after treatment. The treatment had successfully stabilized her emotions and bulimia nervosa did not recur. Her body weight was kept within a satisfactory range. Furthermore, she applied cognitive behavior skills in daily life continuously, and she did exercise and kept company with an individual who helped reinforce appropriate behavior. It is hoped that this report can help nurses better understand bulimia nervosa and be used as a reference in clinical care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-34
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nursing
Issue number2 SUPPL.
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010


  • Body image disturbance
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Cognitive behavior therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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