Identifying and responding to child maltreatment when delivering family‐based treatment—A qualitative study
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INTRODUCTION: This study describes practitioner strategies, perceptions, experiences with identifying and responding to child emotional abuse (CEA) and child exposure to intimate partner violence (CEIPV) when providing Family-Based Treatment (FBT) to children and adolescents with eating disorders. METHOD: Using qualitative interpretive description, this study recruited a purposeful sample of practitioners (N = 30, 90% female) implementing FBT for adolescent eating disorders. Semi-structured interviews focused on eliciting their perspectives regarding identifying and responding to CEA and CEIPV in practice. Interviews were conducted over the phone, were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and coded using conventional content analysis. Interim member checking, the thoughtful clinician test, and coding memos were used to ensure the integrity of the analysis. RESULTS: Participants were 31-57 years old and practicing FBT in five countries. Three data patterns emerged: (a) perceptions of child maltreatment prevalence and identification; (b) complicating factors; and finally (c) strategies to support family-based work. Practitioners described important considerations for CEA and CEIPV identification, as well as possible FBT adaptations that can support the safety of children and adolescents while simultaneously ensuring the treatment of the eating disorder. CONCLUSIONS: Practitioners describe a need for additional training to identify and respond to CEA and CEIPV within FBT and within practice more broadly. There is a need for trials that detail the appropriateness and efficacy of FBT for patients experiencing CEA and/or CEIPV.
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