Tertiary eating disorder services: Is it time to integrate specialty care across the lifespan?

Stephen Allison, Tracey Wade, Megan Warin, Randall Long, Tarun Bastiampillai, Jeffrey C.L. Looi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Australian tertiary eating disorder services (EDS) have a divided model of care, where child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) support patients until the age of 18 years, and thereafter, adult mental health services (AMHS) provide care. Consumers and carers have criticised this divided model because the age boundary occurs during the peak period of onset and acuity for eating disorders. Most CAMHS patients are lost to specialty follow-up around age 18, increasing the risks of relapse and premature mortality from eating disorders, since young women (aged 15–24) have the highest hospitalisation rates from anorexia nervosa. The current article is a commentary on the transition gap and possible service designs.
Eating disorders require access to specialty treatment across the life span. The Australian Federal Government has expanded all-age care through the 2019 Medicare Benefit Schedule (MBS) eating disorder plans. Some new MBS patients require a rapid step-up in care intensity to a tertiary EDS, thereby increasing demand on the public sector. State/Territory Governments should strengthen EDS using the ‘youth reach-down’ model, where AMHS extend EDS to age 12. Vertical service integration from 12 to 64+ facilitates continuity of care for the duration of an eating disorder.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-518
Number of pages3
JournalAustralasian Psychiatry
Issue number5
Early online date16 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • eating disorders
  • transition gap
  • service design
  • youth mental health


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