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Enhancing Outcomes in Adolescent Anorexia Nervosa with Cognitive Remediation Therapy

Statement of Problem

Anorexia nervosa is a serious eating disorder that impacts nearly 4% of people throughout their lifetime. A hallmark of the illness is weight below what is normal for that person’s sex, height and developmental trajectory; many individuals with anorexia engage in behavior to avoid weight gain. In addition to having a number of serious medical consequences, anorexia has the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric disorders.

Because anorexia begins in adolescence, early intervention is key to prevent a chronic course of the disorder. To date, there is only one intervention with substantial evidence-based support for treating anorexia in adolescents: Family Based Treatment (FBT). FBT is a manualized treatment, meaning that the therapist follows a standard protocol to ensure uniformity in care, that is effective for youth aged 12-18. It is a conjoint family treatment, that is, all family members participate in treatment. However, currently only 50% of adolescents reach full remission after treatment. Thus, there is a need to improve our treatments for adolescents with anorexia to ultimately improve their health.


Next Steps

Moving forward, we hope that augmenting FBT with CRT either in adolescents or in parents can improve overall treatment outcomes and weight restoration goals for adolescents with anorexia. It may be that CRT is more effective for some families/individuals. If we know this, we can inform practice guidelines to target treatment and provide the most effective treatment or treatment combination earlier. Ideally, this project will also inform our knowledge about the role of executive functioning in anorexia nervosa.

For more information about our work, please contact us at 267-425-1315 or 267-425-1318.

This project page was last updated in February 2022.

Suggested Citation

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, PolicyLab. Enhancing Outcomes in Adolescent Anorexia Nervosa with Cognitive Remediation Therapy [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: plug in date accessed here]. 

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