Treatment of Pediatric Mental Health Problems: Unravelling the Role of Patient and Family Motivation in Eating Disorder Outcomes

My goal is to improve treatment for children and youth with eating disorders (ages 8-24 years). Eating disorders typically develop during adolescence. Eating disorders can become lifelong, and cause permanent health problems and even death. Making sure that each child gets the right kind of treatment can lead to the best outcomes. But, current guidelines do not consider how to match a child to the best type of treatment.

Knowing about motivation to change in children and families can help clinicians match a child to the best treatment. People who are motivated to change recognize there is a problem and are willing to work on this problem. Higher motivation leads to better eating disorder treatment outcomes in adults. Yet, motivation is not well-studied in youth. In fact, youth are often brought to treatment by their parents. So, parents’ motivation to help their child may be one of the most important features to measure.  

This project will tell us how youth and family motivation affect eating disorder outcomes. It will also tell us how clinicians use information about motivation. At the end of the project, I will be able to update guidelines about how to match a child to the best treatment.