To examine psychiatric comorbidity and factors that influence the outcome of bulimia nervosa (BN) in the general population.
Women from the nationwide birth cohorts of Finnish twins were screened for lifetime BN (N?=?59) by using questionnaires and the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV. We assessed psychiatric comorbidity and other prognostic factors.
Among women with lifetime BN, the following were more common than among unaffected women: current major depressive disorder (p?=?0.004), lifetime major depressive disorder (p?=?0.00001) and heavy drinking (p?=?0.01). Decreased likelihood of recovery was associated with a history of lifetime major depressive disorder (hazard ratio (HR) 0.44, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.23-0.84) and high drive for thinness at time of assessment (HR 0.96, 95% CI 0.93-0.99).
Heavy drinking and depression present challenges for many women with BN. Major depressive disorder emerged as the only statistically significant prognostic factor of BN in this nationwide cohort; high drive for thinness was characteristic of the persistently ill.