Eating Disorders from Parent to Child: Mothers' Perceptions of Transgenerational Effect
Introduction There is now a greater understanding of the significance of attachment and the importance of the mother-child dyad in relation to Eating Disorders (ED). Mothers with this illness may not be able to offer their child the best environment to develop in a healthy way. Previous literature has indicated the probability of transgenerational effect and recognised that children of mothers with an ED are a high risk group. This research takes forward such awareness in relation to transgenerational EDs. It focuses on environmental factors and attachment. It explores the effectiveness of a group therapy intervention to prevent or mitigate the perpetuation of an ED through the generations. This study presents the outcomes of the group process, discussing the effects on the participants. Aims 1. To conduct a group intervention. 2. To aid the recovery of the mother from her ED. 3. To investigate the possibility of primary prevention of an ED for the child. 4. To develop a transferable protocol from the group therapy that can be used by other therapists within a health care setting. Method Participants with an ED (AN, BN or EDNOS) as defined by DSM-IV, who had children under the age of 13 were recruited from NHS settings. Two hour sessions were conducted by a therapist at weekly intervals for 19 weeks; each session was recorded and transcribed. The transcriptions were thematically analysed using NUD*ST. The CORE and the EDI together with a semi-structured interview were administered at the beginning and end of the group and at the six and twelve month follow ups. The n=1 case study methodology was used to design and analyse the study, using the group intervention as the case investigated. Results At the end of the intervention and at 6 month follow up all participants demonstrated an improvement in their ED, but at 12 months this improvement was only sustained by 50%. At all points including the 12 month follow up all participants showed substantial improvement in the nurturing of their children. From this study we were able to complete a manual that could be disseminated to health professionals in order to replicate the organization of further groups for this particular client population. Discussion These results gave encouraging support to the hypothesis that group therapy can be a useful intervention for mothers with an ED in order to break the transgenerational cycle of dysfunction.