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International Journal of Eating Disorders



The quality of working alliance (WA) is associated with treatment outcomes across several types of psychiatric disorders and psychological interventions. This study examined the role of WA with peer mentors (people with lived experience of illness) and student mentors (graduated psychology students) in a 6-week, digital, guided self-help (GSH) intervention for anorexia nervosa.


Ninety-nine patients rated weekly, for 6 weeks: (a) eating psychopathology using the short version of the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-QS) and (b) WA with a student mentor (n = 14) or a peer mentor (n = 10). WA was assessed by asking patients the extent to which they felt comfortable working with their mentor and the extent to which they agreed with them on the goals for support. WA with mentors and the association with eating psychopathology change were measured on a session-by-session basis. The analysis involved a random intercepts cross-lagged panel model.


WA with peer mentors was slightly higher than WA with students (ES = 0.3). Peer mentors' WA in the previous session was significantly associated with eating psychopathology ratings in the next session. No significant relationship was found between the previous session's EDE-QS scores and peer mentor alliance in the following session. In the student mentor group, there were no session-by-session associations between WA and eating psychopathology. However, greater WA with the student mentor across sessions was associated with less eating psychopathology.


These findings suggest that clinical outcomes are in part associated with the characteristics of the mentor delivering guidance in an online GSH for eating disorders.


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This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
© 2021 The Authors. International Journal of Eating Disorders published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.



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