Eating Disorders and Child Maltreatment

Project Title: The Intersection of Child Maltreatment and Eating Disorders –  Advancing the Adolescent and Family Perspective

Role: Principal Investigator

Funding Source: Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Evidence identifies child maltreatment (physical, sexual and emotional abuse, neglect and exposure to intimate partner violence) as a significant and modifiable risk factor for eating disorders (ED). However, this evidence has largely focused on the role of neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse; we know little about the role of childhood emotional abuse (EA) and childhood exposure to intimate partner violence (CE-IPV) in the onset and treatment of EDs over the short and long-term. This series of studies will provide evidence about the nature and the strength of the relationship between EA, CE-IPV and EDs in adolescents. It will explore under what conditions ED treatment professionals report EA and CE-IPV to child protective services; and it will explore the ED treatment perspectives of adolescents and parents for whom child maltreatment may have presented a significant barrier to treatment completion. This work will provide much-needed evidence about how EA and CE-IPV influence EDs as well as health care providers’ ability to deliver family-based interventions to treat EDs among adolescents in Canada.