Toward A Greater Understanding of Factors That May Improve the Efficacy of Treatment for Youth with Anorexia Nervosa



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Family-based treatment is considered a well-established outpatient intervention for adolescents with anorexia nervosa who are medically stable. Despite the literature supporting this intervention, family-based treatment is not effective for all individuals suffering from anorexia nervosa. In order to strengthen intervention approaches for youth with anorexia nervosa, a richer understanding of the mechanisms through which family-based treatment promotes positive change is greatly needed. To this end, the goal of the present study was to develop an understanding of factors that may improve the efficacy of treatment for youth with anorexia nervosa. Study 1 examined mediators and moderators of family-based treatment for adolescent eating disorders. Study 2 was a pilot study examining an adjunct component to manualized family-based treatment as a mechanism to decrease the psychological consequences of anorexia nervosa. Although family-based treatment has shown significant success in helping individuals reach weight restoration, psychological concerns typical of AN, such as weight and shape concerns, have been less amenable to change. Treatment implications and suggestions for future research are discussed. Furthermore, findings from study 2 suggest that individual therapy sessions in conjunction with family-based treatment are associated with a decrease in body weight and shape concerns typical of anorexia nervosa. Thus together, these findings illuminate potential mechanisms to improve the efficacy of family-based treatment for anorexia nervosa.