Family functioning, coparenting, and parents' ability to manage conflict in adolescent anorexia nervosa subtypes

Michela Criscuolo, Chiara Marchetto, Ilenia Chianello, Lucia Cereser, Maria Chiara Castiglioni, Pierandrea Salvo, Stefano Vicari, Valeria Zanna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Studies about family functioning in adolescent anorexia nervosa (AN) are conflicting and often do not consider the possible differences between the restricting and binge/purging subtypes (AN-R and AN-B/P). Moreover, an underestimated element is the quality of the coparenting relationship, that is, the level of coordination and agreement between parents, as well as the methods of managing parental conflict. Method: The study aims to explore family functioning, coparenting and conflict management in a sample of 60 adolescents with AN-R and AN-B/P and their relations with AN severity in terms of body mass index (BMI). Patients and parents completed the following questionnaires: Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales, Coparenting Scale-Revised, and Conflict Management Questionnaire. Results: No differences are found in general family functioning between the two groups, but mothers in the AN-R group show a higher coparental conflict and a tendency to use negative-passive ways of conflict management than mothers of the AN-B/P group. Moreover, the presence of a coparental conflict is associated to lower BMI and to more dysfunctional family functioning. Discussion: These findings underline the importance of increasing knowledge on specific aspects of general family functioning. In particular, it seems that the way parents manage conflict between themselves as partners can have a role in the maintenance of AN. Clinical implications of these results are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-161
Number of pages11
JournalFamilies, Systems and Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Coparenting
  • Eating disorders
  • Family functioning
  • Parental conflict

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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