An examination of the impact of care giving styles (accommodation and skilful communication and support) on the one year outcome of adolescent anorexia nervosa: Testing the assumptions of the cognitive interpersonal model in anorexia nervosa

Laura Salerno, Gianluca Lo Coco, Nadia Micali, Pamela Macdonald, Elizabeth Goddard, Rebecca Hibbs, Charlotte Rhind, Simon Gowers, Janet Treasure, Gillian Todd, Ulrike Schmidt

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23 Citations (Scopus)


Background The cognitive interpersonal model predicts that parental caregiving style will impact on the rate of improvement of anorexia nervosa symptoms. The study aims to examine whether the absolute levels and the relative congruence between mothers' and fathers' care giving styles influenced the rate of change of their children's symptoms of anorexia nervosa over 12 months. Methods Triads (n=54) consisting of patients with anorexia nervosa and both of their parents were included in the study. Caregivers completed the Caregiver Skills scale and the Accommodation and Enabling Scale at intake. Patients completed the Short Evaluation of Eating Disorders at intake and at monthly intervals for one year. Polynomial Hierarchical Linear Modeling was used for the analysis. Results There is a person/dose dependant relationship between accommodation and patients' outcome, i.e. when both mother and father are highly accommodating outcome is poor, if either is highly accommodating outcome is intermediate and if both parents are low on accommodation outcome is good. Outcome is also good if both parents or mother alone have high levels of carer skills and poor if both have low levels of skills. Limitations Including only a sub-sample of an adolescent clinical population; not considering time spent care giving, and reporting patient's self-reported outcome data limits the generalisability of the current findings. Conclusion Accommodating and enabling behaviours by family members can serve to maintain eating disorder behaviours. However, skilful behaviours particularly by mothers, can aid recovery. Clinical interventions to optimise care giving skills and to reduce accommodation by both parents may be an important addition to treatment for anorexia nervosa.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-236
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 2016


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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