Interested in becoming a Research Assistant?
We are currently seeking research assistants for Summer 2017 and Fall 2017.
There are ample opportunities for undergraduate students to become involved in my research and I enjoy working with students to help them reach their career goals. Past undergraduate students and research staff who have worked under my supervision have gotten into top clinical psychology, counseling psychology, and neuroscience graduate schools including: Northwestern University, University of Missouri – Kansas City, University of Iowa, University of Toronto, Loyola University, University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, Brandeis University, the University of Chicago, and Drexel University.
Currently positions are for credit through the PSY 480 course. I require a minimum of 3 semester hours per week (which amounts to 9 hours of work per week, plus one hour lab meeting or 10 hours total per week). Paid opportunities may become available for advanced undergraduates (i.e., individuals who have performed exceptionally well for at least one semester) or for individuals who have graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree. Lab tasks/duties include: data entry, telephone screening of participants, scheduling, collection and preparation of biological samples, data management, and assisting with manuscript and grant preparation.
Current CARE Research Studies
We are conducting several research studies that are designed to understand the relationships between eating behaviors and various other types of psychological difficulties, as well as research designed to develop better ways of classifying, assessing, and diagnosing abnormal eating behaviors.
Assessment of EDs:
"Developing a multidimensional measure of eating pathology"
Many of the existing measures of eating disorders were not created using up-to-date statistical methods. To address these issues, we have developed a new, multi-dimensional measure of eating pathology (Forbush et al., 2013; Forbush et al., 2014). This measure is called the Eating Pathology Symptoms Inventory (EPSI; pronounced ‘ep-see’). The EPSI has excellent psychometric properties and may provide a better assessment of eating disorder behaviors compared to many current existing measures. We are currently conducting additional studies to validate the measure. We are also working on creating an interview-version of this measure, and translating this measure for use in other cultures (see Tang et al., 2015) and in children and adolescents in collaboration with investigators from Children's Mercy Hospital and the Eating Disorder Center of Kansas City. We also have a current industry-sponsored grant from Recovery Record, Inc. to develop a week-to-week outcomes assessment based on the original EPSI. This new outcomes assessment tool will enable easy tracking of client progress in clinical research trials and in psychotherapy practice in the community.
Diagnosis of EDs:
"Refining eating disorder diagnoses"
Studies indicate that the most common eating disorder diagnosis is “Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder." This is a diagnostic category that includes "atypical" forms of eating disorders and eating disorders that do not meet full criteria for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder. Other research suggests that there are numerous problems with the way in which eating disorders are currently diagnosed. We are currently conducting a study designed to improve the diagnostic system for eating disorders using statistical modeling. For example, we recently used a statistical technique called "network analysis" to identify interactive symptoms as a new way to understand which aspects of disordered eating "trigger" or activate other disordered eating symptoms (see Forbush et al., 2016). We also have a large longitudinal study underway that is designed to identify predictors of change and stability in eating disorder symptoms and comorbidity in a community recruited sample of individuals with eating disorders. Over 230 participants have completed baseline assessments, and we aim to recruit 250 individuals and follow them over time.
Biological Bases of EDs:
"Exploring neurobiological and biological underpinnings of eating pathology"
Given that bulimia nervosa was not recognized as an "official" mental disorder until 1980, neurobiological research for bulimia nervosa lags decades behind other areas of serious mental illness. We have an ongoing study using fMRI neuroimaging in collaboration with the Hoglund Brain Imaging Center at the University of Kansas Medical Center to examine how the brain responds to reward and stress in women who engage in disordered eating behaviors. We expect our findings to impact public health by enabling targeted future interventions for treatment-refractory EDs. Additional ongoing projects involve an emotion-modulated startle paradigm.
Classification of EDs:
"Locating eating disorders within statistical-models of mental illness"
The goal of this research is to examine the location of eating disorders within statistically-derived models of mental illness. In the first study to address this issue, we examined a sample of female adolescent twins (N=1,434) who participated in the Minnesota Twin Family Study. We found that eating disorders can be considered as a specific type of internalizing disorder (other internalizing disorders include mood and anxiety disorders). The manuscript for this paper was published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology (Forbush et al., 2010). We have replicated these findings in a large nationally-representative sample (Forbush and Watson, 2013). We are also developing a study to identify how the symptoms of eating disorders are related to other forms of mental disorders and to normal and abnormal personality traits (Forbush et al., under review). This study is currently taking place at the CARE Lab on the University of Kansas Lawrence campus and at the the Clinical and Translational Science Unit at the University of Kansas Medical School.
Undergraduate and Graduate Student Research Projects:
Graduate students in the CARE Lab are actively engaged in a number of independent research projects under the mentorship of Dr. Forbush. These studies include defining severity in eating disorders, testing eating disorder models empirically, identifying differences among individuals diagnosed with an eating disorder, identifying the trajectory of eating disorder symptoms over time, comparing eating disorder symptomatology of men and women, and more. Undergraduate lab members have also been heavily involved in research in the CARE Lab. Recent undergraduate research has covered topics such as test-retest reliability of common eating disorder measures, translation of the EPSI into a different language, locating factors of eating pathology among internalizing and externalizing behaviors, and longitudinal predictors of PTSD and eating disorder symptoms. Please feel free to contact students in the lab for more information on their research projects.