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BOOK REVIEWS: Assessment of Eating Disorders

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
March/April 2006 Volume 17, Number 2
©2006 Gürze Books

Assessment of Eating Disorders

Editors: James E. Mitchell and Carol B. Peterson
242 pages, $35.00
©2007 Guilford Publications
Order online at

In this nicely edited, concise volume, Drs. Mitchell and Peterson have brought together leaders in the field, primarily from the outstanding research groups at the universities of North Dakota and Minnesota, as well as several other major universities, to contribute crisp summaries on all aspects of the assessment of eating disorders. After preliminary chapters on diagnostic and classification issues, Dr. Peterson offers an excellent discussion on conducting the diagnostic interview. Dialogued vignettes show how some of the suggested points are best framed in conversation with patients. These chapters are followed by Dr. Mitchell's presentation on developing a standardized database for patients with eating disorders, which includes in its entirety a copy of his excellent Eating Disorders Questionnaire (EDQ),version 9.0, a project he and his group have been working on for years. In routine clinical practice, patients complete the EDQ prior to their initial visit. The clinician and patient then review the patient's responses to clarify and amplify key areas.

Subsequent chapters cover the pros and cons of various structured interviews and self-report measures. These sections will be useful for researchers as well as those with treatment programs seeking to collect data in a systematic fashion. Briefly reviewed are specific strategies for the medical workup, nutritional assessment by registered dieticians, assessing families, and, using a variety of techniques, the assessment of body image disturbances. In a somewhat unique presentation of "ecological momentary assessment," a research group exploring these modalities describes how they use these techniques to acquire information "in the field." The group explains how they stimulate patients' responses by means of personal digital assistants, or PDAs, pagers, and wrist alarms. The patients can record exactly what they've been doing and what has been transpiring at that point in time with respect to behaviors and thoughts associated with eating disorders and associated phenomena under observation. These methods not only offer in-vivo research measures, but also ultimately promise potential new avenues for intervention.

In a final chapter, on treatment planning, Dr. Mitchell proposes a series of specific intervention strategies by means of helpful algorithms that readers of all stripes will value.

Although virtually all clinicians working with eating disorder patients conduct assessments as part of their core operations, this book can bring new thinking to experts as well as novices about state-of-the-art approaches to these crucial aspects of our activities.

— J.Y.


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