Developing Treatments for Adolescent Atypical Anorexia

Project Title: Family-Based Treatment for Atypical Anorexia – A Treatment Development Study

Principal Investigator: Dr. Gina Dimitropoulos

Role: Co-Investigator

Research shows that adolescents with atypical anorexia nervosa (AN) have higher rates of anxiety and suicidality than those meeting full criteria for AN, with those living with atypical AN also experiencing significant body dissatisfaction and duress about their bodies, as well as psychosocial impairment. Yet, despite the significant medical and psychological impairment associated with atypical AN, adolescents living with this disorder experience pronounced delays in the detection and diagnosis of their eating disorder. The consequences of delayed diagnosis and treatment may be profound given that many adolescents initially experiencing atypical AN eventually meet full criteria for anorexia nervosa.  In addition, adolescents with atypical AN are often excluded from empirical investigations due to methodological and clinical emphasis on low weight criteria that is characteristic of typical anorexia and has led to the absence of evidence-based treatments for the highly vulnerable, atypical population. To date, there are no studies evaluating interventions for adolescent populations with atypical AN. The goal of this sequence of studies is to develop a modified family-based treatment model for adolescents diagnosed with atypical AN and their families. We further seek to establish the feasibility of this adapted model, provide effect sizes on the efficacy of the treatment to reduce/ameliorate eating disorder symptoms, and describe parental and adolescents perceptions of this treatment model.