Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2014

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Nicpon, Megan Foley

First Committee Member

Liu, Will M

Second Committee Member

Ali, Saba R

Third Committee Member

Thomas, Volker

Fourth Committee Member

Ehly, Stewart W

Fifth Committee Member

Schoen, Eva G


Family-based treatment for anorexia nervosa is a relatively recent form of therapy that is commonly used with families of child and adolescent patients. While current efficacy research of this treatment is promising, little research has been conducted on families' experiences of this treatment. This qualitative study investigates the experiences of parents who have participated in family-based treatment for a child or adolescent (ages 10-21) diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. Analytic induction (AI) methodology was used in this qualitative study to examine the various factors contributing the effectiveness of family-based treatment for families. Purposeful sampling was employed to obtain a wide variety of participants. In depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 parents via telephone or web-based chat. These interviews were coded and analyzed to generate themes, which were combined to form a theory regarding which factors influence families' treatment outcomes when using FBT-AN. Sufficient and necessary conditions of successful and unsuccessful treatment outcomes were identified. Two sufficient conditions of treatment success were identified--namely, that parents were provided with practical suggestions by their treatment teams and that parents were able to implement their treatment teams' advice at home. Eighteen themes were identified as being necessary, but not sufficient, conditions to treatment success. These themes related to aspects of treatment sessions and treatment providers' relationships with parents; parental, familial, and other supportive relationships; and the processes of re-feeding, exposure to food, and parental monitoring and oversight. Two necessary conditions of unsuccessful treatment outcome were identified. The first condition was that the time period during which the child or adolescent restored weight was prolonged, or greater than six months. The second necessary condition was that the child demonstrated inconsistent progress during FBT. Additional themes present across treatment outcomes were also explored. This study aims to highlight the diverse experiences of parents who have participated in family-based treatment for anorexia nervosa and to serve as a resource for clinicians and researchers providing this treatment. Potential clinical and research applications of the study's results are discussed.


anorexia nervosa, family-based treatment, family therapy, Maudsley, parents


xi, 246 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 235-246).


Copyright 2014 Joanna Elise Wiese