Parental medical neglect in the treatment of adolescents with anorexia nervosa

Int J Eat Disord. 2001 Apr;29(3):358-62. doi: 10.1002/eat.1031.


Objective: Although childhood sexual abuse has been a frequent focus of research on eating disorders, other forms of maltreatment have been less commonly reported. Parental medical neglect is examined in this study as having serious consequences for the treatment and prognosis of patients with anorexia nervosa.

Method: Two case studies illustrate parental interference with treatment in which Child Protective Services (CPS) had to be involved in compliance with state law. Two adolescent females who were admitted for treatment for anorexia nervosa are presented.

Results: In both cases, the parents refused to comply with the recommendations of the treatment team, placing their children's health in jeopardy. In compliance with reporting guidelines, CPS was notified in both cases.

Conclusions: Clinicians who treat minors with anorexia nervosa must consider parental compliance with treatment. Indications for the involvement of CPS are outlined. Optimally, this notification can ensure that the patient and family receive the requisite treatment.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anorexia Nervosa / diagnosis
  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / therapy*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Parents*