PsyD candidate Jessica Cowan is giving her oral dissertation defense on Saturday, Feb. 15, at 2 p.m., in room 217 on campus.
Title: Coercive and Compulsive Treatment of Eating Disorders: Surveying Treatment Providers’ Attitudes and Behavior
Abstract: Stigma toward individuals with eating disorders is common and well-documented. Individuals with eating disorders regularly report experiencing stigma associated with perceptions that they are to blame for their illness, that their illness is trivial compared to other conditions, or that they are engaging in disordered behavior to gain attention. These stigmatizing attitudes toward eating disorders are also reported by the general public and healthcare professionals, including those who treat eating disorders. Treatment of these illnesses at all levels of care often include paternalistic approaches such as coercion and compulsion that can have both adverse and advantageous consequences. While there are ethical, clinical, and legal justifications for these treatment approaches, this study provides a novel exploration of the relationships between stigma toward individuals with eating disorders and coercive and compulsive treatment. This was accomplished using a survey methodology to assess the attitudes and treatment practices of treatment providers across the United States. The results of this study suggest that there is no significant relationship between treatment providers’ attitudes toward individuals with eating disorders and coercive or compulsive treatment methods. Implications for clinical practice and future research are discussed and center on the need for additional inquiry to better understand the complexities of these two variables in light of the ongoing debate concerning the risks and benefits of coercive and compulsive treatment.