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Research studies at The Center for Eating Disorders


The motivation for our research is simple: eating disorders are complex.

The Center's medically intensive approach is driven by our research, which is in turn motivated by our desire to learn as much as we can about the challenges of these complex disorders. 

Current Research Programs:

  • Eating disorder patients’ response to yoga sessions: An exploratory pilot study of state-based anxiety, self-esteem, and body image - Researchers at the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt completed a pilot study examining the effects of yoga group sessions on problems associated with eating disorders.  There is some evidence that suggests that yoga may be a helpful practice in decreasing some of the negative emotions and thoughts that are associated with eating disorders (Carei, Fyfe-Johnson, Breuner & Brown, 2009; Carlson, Speca, Patel, & Goodey, 2003; Clance, Mitchell, & Engelman, 1980; Dale, Mattison, Greening, Galen, Neace, & Matacin, 2009; Daubenmier, 2005; Deshpande, Nagendra, & Nagarathna, 2009; McIver, McGartland, & O’Halloran, 2009; Smith, Hancock, Blake-Mortimer, & Eckert, 2007).  Results indicated that participants in the partial hospitalization program who completed weekly yoga group sessions had significant differences on objective measures of state-based anxiety, self-esteem, and body image prior to and following yoga sessions.  Such differences reflected a decrease in anxiety, low self-esteem, and negative body image following yoga group.  Results were consistent between child and adult participants.  These findings suggest that yoga may be a helpful supplemental treatment component to support patients in coping with mood and thoughts associated with their eating disorder.  Researchers at the Center plan to continue to analyze such results and consider development of additional studies in order to continue to investigate this finding and to determine how best to apply yoga within the treatment practices for eating disorders.  

  • Cognitive remediation therapy for anorexia nervosa: Effects on a cognitive restructuring task - Researchers at the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt are interested in examining the effects of cognitive remediation therapy (CRT) for anorexia nervosa.  Anorexia nervosa is a relatively rare but serious mental health problem, which tends to run a chronic course with significant physical and psychological disability and high death rates.  As it is difficult to treat anorexia, researchers are often working to find new and effective treatment methods, as well as to better improve the methods that have already been established. CRT is a new treatment method that has been used as a supplemental therapy, and has been shown to be fairly effective for the treatment of anorexia nervosa (Craighead & Agras, 1991; Dalle Grave, Calugi, Doll, & Fairburn, 2013; Fairburn et al., 2013).  There is some evidence that suggests that CRT may be effective in helping individuals who are struggling with anorexia to be more flexible in their thinking (Abbate-Daga et al., 2012; Genders et al., 2008; Pretorius et al., 2012; Tchanturia et al., 2007), which may contribute to better success with evidence-based psychotherapeutic methods, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).  Researchers from The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt hope to learn about how CRT may affect the thinking process of individuals with eating disorders and how this addition to clinical treatment may affect an individual’s involvement in CBT.  The study is currently in the data collection phase on the inpatient and partial hospitalization units. 

Recently Completed Research:

  • International Anorexia Nervosa Treatment Study ~ The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt was part of a multi-site international research study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The main focus of this study was on family therapy for adolescents with anorexia nervosa (AN).  Despite the seriousness of AN, there is limited research on possible treatments, especially among adolescents. However there are two models of family therapy that have been proposed to be effective: Behavioral Family Therapy and Systems Family Therapy. The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt, along with five other treatment sites, participated in a five-year study comparing these two types of family treatment.

 

Please check back for updates and future research opportunities at The Center for Eating Disorders.  You can also contact The Center's Research Coordinator via email here.
 

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