Author

Lind K. Todd

Date of Award:

5-1992

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

David M. Stein

Abstract

The research concerning eating disorders and concomitant conditions shows that anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are serious disorders that pose many diagnostic and therapeutic challenges to mental health and nutrition professionals. Most psychologists and nutritionists receive broad-based training that likely only superficially touches upon the importance of these diagnostic issues. Nevertheless, effective treatment planning requires that diagnostic issues and concomitant conditions be evaluated and incorporated into the diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders. Thus, there is an increasing need for specialized training in order to better evaluate and treat the complicated clinical picture presented by eating disorder clients.

However to date, no systematic training package has been available to meet this training need. The present study was designed to fulfill this need by developing and initially validating an expert system-based, computer-assisted training program (ES-CAT). The initial validation involved comparing the mean overall post-test scores of 56 subjects. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of three groups [i.e., expert system-based, computer assisted trainer (ES-CAT), expert system-based trainer without computer guidance (ES), and traditional self-study (SS)].

The ES-CAT was shown to be more effective in training subjects in the diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders than either an expert system-based trainer without computer guidance (ES) or a traditional method of training (SS). Indeed, subjects who used the ES-CAT showed large gains in knowledge and mastery of the material at better than 85%.

The addition of the computer-based guidance to the expert system trainer showed more significant gains (from a pre-test to post-test) of learning than the expert system trainer manual only. Furthermore, the expert system-based trainer without computer guidance (ES) was significantly more effective in training subjects than a traditional method of reading and studying textbooks (SS). The total training time of the ES-CAT was approximately 16 hours. Thus, a reasonable and effective means of training practitioners to better evaluate and treat the complicated clinical picture presented by eating disorder patients was developed and initially validated.

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Psychology Commons

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