Do individuals with eating disorders dislike exposure therapy? Attitudes from children, adults, and parents toward exposure therapy and other treatments for eating disorders

Jamal H. Essayli, Aiyana E. Webster, Marlana A. Quaill, Hana F. Zickgraf, Susan E. Lane-Loney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Exposure therapy appears underutilized in the treatment of eating disorders (EDs), perhaps due to clinicians' concerns that patients will dislike exposure therapy. The present study aims to investigate the attitudes of child patients, adult patients, and parents of child patients with EDs toward exposure therapy relative to four other treatments for EDs. Method: A questionnaire was administered to patients and parents (N = 126) upon admission to a partial hospitalization program for EDs. Participants read vignettes describing five different treatments for EDs, and answered questions assessing attitudes about each treatment. Results: At admission, participants reported the most favorable attitudes toward cognitive therapy, and the least favorable attitudes toward psychiatric medication. Exposure therapy generally received similar scores as interpersonal and expressive art therapy, and was perceived as significantly more preferable and effective in the long-term than psychiatric medication. Relative to child and adult patients, parents reported greater preferences for all treatments except medication, and perceived all treatments as more credible except medication and art therapy. Preliminary findings from a subset of participants who also completed the questionnaire at discharge indicated that positive attitudes toward exposure therapy increased over the course of treatment. Discussion: Individuals with EDs and their parents may enter treatment with particularly favorable views toward cognitive therapy, and do not appear to have strong attitudes toward exposure therapy one way or the other. Clinicians' concerns that patients with EDs will dislike exposure therapy may be largely unfounded.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)606-614
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Volume54
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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