Research on a virtual therapeutic approach to eating disorders during the pandemic and thereafter
In October 2020, the Association des pédiatres du Québec (APQ) sounded the alarm about the current and future impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of children and adolescents. At CHU Sainte-Justine, the number of cases has doubled over the past year. For many, lockdown was the tipping point that led to the onset of an eating disorder. This research project will determine the effectiveness of virtual healthcare provided through telehealth platforms. Interventions provided via telemedicine and telepractice are promising and will hopefully help youth to cope with eating disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic. This project will synthesize knowledge about the effectiveness of online support programs for adolescents with eating disorders and their families and the use of these programs around the world.
It will also enable assessing the effectiveness of customized online treatment and self-care measures targeting the physical and psychosocial health and adjustment of children dealing with an eating disorder.
Lastly, the study will lead to a better understanding of the experiences of children suffering from eating disorders and their families who receive intensive outpatient care services on a virtual basis.
Thanks to a unique research protocol and methodology for tracking all virtual and in-person services provided, the study will make it possible to continue providing services to adolescents who have been hard hit by the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also generate evidence-based, high-quality data on an innovative and relatively obscure treatment method for children with eating disorders, i.e., virtual care via telehealth initiatives.
Studies of this type are critical, as they allow for demonstrating the excellence of the care provided, which increases the likelihood of longer-term funding once health benefits are scientifically validated. The fundamental reason for this research? To exert a positive influence on the lives of as many young people as possible.
- Dr. Nicholas Chadi, pediatrician and clinical scientist specializing in adolescent medicine with degrees from McGill University, Université de Montréal, University of Toronto and Harvard University
- CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre
- McGill University Health Centre - MUHC
- Metabolic and cardiovascular health