To assess the effectiveness of a literary workshop activity for increasing linguistic skills and assertiveness in patients with eating disorders (ED).
Twenty-four patients consequently admitted to the ED in-patient unit at the private clinic “Villa Maria Luigia” (Parma, Northern Italy) were enrolled in the study. Of these, 8 were randomly assigned to treatment and 16 to care as usual (the only difference between treatment and care as usual was the literary workshop activity). The literary workshop consisted in 15 weekly 60-minute group sessions. Linguistic and expressive skills were provided and tested during the sessions. The Rathus Assertiveness Schedule and the Verbal Fluency Test (phonemic and semantic) were administered to all patients at the beginning and end of hospitalization.
A significant improvement of semantic skills, phonetic skills and assertiveness (p < 0.01) was registered in the treatment group. A positive correlation was also found between variations of linguistic skills and assertiveness in the treatment group, but not in the control group.
The results of this study suggest that a literary workshop activity within a rehabilitation program for patients suffering from ED can aid in improving communication and language skills that might have a positive and significant impact on levels of assertiveness.