How do Families of Adolescents with Anorexia Nervosa Coordinate Parenting?

Michela Criscuolo, Fiorenzo Laghi, Silvia Mazzoni, Maria C. Castiglioni, Stefano Vicari, Valeria Zanna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Current guidelines for the treatment of anorexia nervosa (AN) in children and adolescents underline the central role of parents’ involvement for positive therapy outcomes. However, little is known about the influence of cooperation between the parental couple on family functioning and the maintenance of food symptoms in the anorexic child. This exploratory study reports preliminary data on coparenting and family functioning in families of adolescents with AN and their associations with food symptoms, in terms of body mass index (BMI). The sample consisted of 24 families of adolescents with AN, who had been admitted to a specialized tertiary level children’s hospital. Family coordination was evaluating using the Lausanne Trilogue Play (LTP) and coparenting style was measured using the Coparenting and Family Rating System (CFRS). Significant differences were found for different LTP functions (Friedman’s chi-square = 52.188; p < 0.001) and phases (Friedman’s chi-square = 10.277; p < 0.05). Families showed low coordination (66.7%) and a prevalence of dysfunctional co-parenting styles, including child-at-center (41.2%) and excluding (35.3%) styles. Families’ ability to participate in the third phase of the LTP was positively associated with BMI (rho = 0.558, p < 0.01). The coparenting relationship impacts the maintenance of eating pathology, though this association requires further investigation. Moreover, in line with clinical observations, the results show a prevalence of unexpressed parental conflict in the study sample. The LTP seems to be a more accurate observational tool for this kind of family dynamic than the CFRS, because it includes covert competitive and conflictual behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2542-2551
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2020


  • Adolescence
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Coparenting
  • Family coordination
  • Lausanne trilogue play

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


Dive into the research topics of 'How do Families of Adolescents with Anorexia Nervosa Coordinate Parenting?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this