Unlike most facilities in New York, our program includes both a research component as well as a clinical program. Our research program involves the study of all types of eating disorder pathology among individuals of all ages, genders and socioeconomic statuses. These research studies are vital to the operation of our program, as they provide treatment to individuals who might not be able to afford treatment. Additionally, results from these studies help us continue to employ the most effective courses of therapy for our patients. Our research studies have garnered our clinic much acclaim from international conferences, peers in the field of eating disorders, and fellow clinicians. We continue to publish findings from these research studies to both further the body of knowledge on the treatment of eating disorders, and also improve treatment outcomes. All of the research we conduct is designed to ultimately improve the lives of individuals suffering from any of the problems discussed above.
Current Areas of Research
Our group has looked at studying family-based interventions for adolescents with anorexia nervosa and subthreshold variants of the disorder. One persistent question that remains about family therapy for this disorder is “Why does it work?”. Our group is particularly interested in the mechanisms by which Family Therapy works compared to other treatments. We hope that this avenue of research will help in determining which interventions treat anorexia nervosa most effectively (Family Therapy vs. Hospitalization vs. Individual Therapy, etc.).
Our extended research goals with this population are to determine the impact of gonadal hormones (e.g., estrogen vs. testosterone) and their metabolites on existing eating disorder symptomology as well as to link this hormonal on endocrinological mechanism to the development and maintenance of these core eating disturbances.
Appearance and Performance Enhancing Drug Use
Included among the many substances used by a growing number of individuals to improve or alter their appearance are the following:
- Anabolic-androgenic steroids
- Growth hormone
- Thyroid hormones
- Asthma medications
- Cancer drugs
Rather than further stigmatize these individuals for their drug use, our team takes a special interest in studying the consequences of these drugs (both positive and negative) as experienced by actual APED users.
We are currently developing a research interview designed to reliably assess the experiences of individuals who take these substances. Within this project, we also seek to understand if there are gender differences in the types, patterns, and consequences of APED use. Furthermore, we would like to know if certain patterns yield specific consequences such as improved mood and self-esteem as well as less desirable effects such as aggression or impulsivity.
In addition to developing appropriate assessment tools, we also are interested in developing a better understanding of the endocrinological impact of this form of drug use and how changes in amount of these hormones affect certain behaviors. We hope the results of this research will help us better understand the role of gonadal hormones on mood, as well as helping to find where the potential for damaging effects of these drugs exists.
Finally, we are interested in the development of APED use among high risk individuals. The most common age of onset for most APED users exists in young adulthood. We are interested in knowing what leads to atypical onset such as high school or late adulthood. We are also interested in determining if early or late onset use results in different levels of risk.
Future Research Directions
Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder
We have several research interests in these populations. With regard to treatment we are interested in the best methods to disseminate Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to practicing clinicians who treat eating disorders. This involves partnerships with existing clinical settings and the development of a core curriculum for developing clinicians’s skills in delivering CBT.
Another interest of ours is pursuing the mood related disturbances found among men and women with these disorders. In particular, we are interested in how the brain processes emotional information and if there are certain commorbid personality characteristics that contribute to differences in emotional processing.
Body Image and Related Areas of Disturbance
Our group is interested in testing and validating specific behavioral interventions for body image disturbances. These include the use of mirror exposure which is an adapted form of behavioral therapy originating in the anxiety disorder fields. This treatment attempts to improve and individual’s ability to tolerate the distress generated by his/her appearance such that it reduces obsessionality and overall distress related to one’s body.
We are also interested in developing a better neurobiological understanding of the experience of body image disturbance. While some degree of this is socially and culturally determined, there appear to be a smaller few who develop severe and persistent disturbances around their appearance. Our group hopes to identify some of the neurobiological vulnerabilities to as well as behavioral consequences of these body image disturbances. One component of body image that our group is particularly interested in studying is physical attractiveness. Linked to evolutionary and sociocultural theory, attractiveness plays a complex role in our day to day life. Among the many questions that we are currently researching are the presence of specific attractiveness standards among different sexual orientations and how these standards are communicated in mass media. We are also interested in the social role of attractiveness, the ways in which males and females purposefully deceive each other about their appearance, and the impact of these social interactions on the development of body image problems.
For more information or to make an appointment:
1425 Madison Ave. (corner or 98th St. and Madison Ave.)
ICAHN Building, Floor 6, Room 32
New York, NY 10029