Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
May/June 2000 Volume 11, Number 3
©2000 Gürze Books
A 12-month pilot program is helping staff members of medical clinics to better diagnose and treat persons with eating disorders in underserved neighborhoods. Valerie Gurney, PhD, and Katherine Halmi, MD, of Cornell University designed 4 flexible teaching modules for social workers that include diagnosis, course of illness, risk factors, comorbid disorders, assessment, treatment planning, medical complications, and psychotherapy. A separate medical management module was developed for internists, pediatricians, nurses and physician’s assistants. The primary care curriculum is currently being implemented in 5 medical clinics in northern Manhattan. Six months after their initial training, the social workers had a significant increase in knowledge about eating disorders (a 20.4% mean increase from their previous scores). Also, by 6 months, the social workers were beginning to change practice behaviors, such as screening more patients for eating disorders. Attitudes toward patients with eating disorders remained positive throughout the study. The most common eating disorder among the patient population was obesity, a reflection of the study population, mainly recent immigrants from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.