The relationship between working alliance with peer mentors and eating psychopathology in a digital 6-week guided self-help intervention for anorexia nervosa

Gaia Albano*, Valentina Cardi, Dennis M. Kivlighan, Suman Ambwani, Janet Treasure, Gianluca Lo Coco

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: The quality of working alliance (WA) is associated with treatment outcomes across several types of psychiatric disorders and psychological interventions. This study examined the role of WA with peer mentors (people with lived experience of illness) and student mentors (graduated psychology students) in a 6-week, digital, guided self-help (GSH) intervention for anorexia nervosa. Method: Ninety-nine patients rated weekly, for 6 weeks: (a) eating psychopathology using the short version of the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-QS) and (b) WA with a student mentor (n = 14) or a peer mentor (n = 10). WA was assessed by asking patients the extent to which they felt comfortable working with their mentor and the extent to which they agreed with them on the goals for support. WA with mentors and the association with eating psychopathology change were measured on a session-by-session basis. The analysis involved a random intercepts cross-lagged panel model. Results: WA with peer mentors was slightly higher than WA with students (ES = 0.3). Peer mentors' WA in the previous session was significantly associated with eating psychopathology ratings in the next session. No significant relationship was found between the previous session's EDE-QS scores and peer mentor alliance in the following session. In the student mentor group, there were no session-by-session associations between WA and eating psychopathology. However, greater WA with the student mentor across sessions was associated with less eating psychopathology. Discussion: These findings suggest that clinical outcomes are in part associated with the characteristics of the mentor delivering guidance in an online GSH for eating disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1519-1526
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Volume54
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Keywords

  • anorexia nervosa
  • cross-lagged panel
  • eating psychopathology
  • guidance
  • mentors
  • online guided self-help
  • peer mentors
  • working alliance

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