UCAN- Uniting Couples in the treatment of Anorexia Nervosa

UCAN 2Uniting Couples in the treatment of Anorexia Nervosa (UCAN)

Uniting Couples in the treatment of Anorexia Nervosa (UCAN) is a collaborative treatment research study between the UNC Eating Disorders Program and the UNC Department of Psychology and is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder. People with anorexia are thin, have difficulty maintaining a healthy weight, are afraid of weight gain, and cut back on how much food they eat. Anorexia nervosa affects both women and men.

Is UCAN for You?

The UCAN program might be appropriate for you if:

  • You or your partner has anorexia nervosa
  • You and your partner have been together for at least 6 months                                 
  • You are both at least 18 years old
  • You are both interested in participating in the study

What You Can Expect from UCAN


The study examines two comprehensive treatments as couples face the challenges of anorexia nervosa. Active treatment will last for about six months, and your progress will continue to be monitored for up to one-year after treatment is completed.

Your participation in UCAN can help you gain new confidence in facing anorexia and can help us understand how best to involve partners in the treatment of eating disorders.

Experienced Professionals

All treatment is conducted by therapists, physicians, and dietitians with extensive experience in treating eating disorders.

Comprehensive Assessment

You and your partner will receive a comprehensive baseline assessment to determine eligibility.  If eligible, you will receive 5 follow-up assessments during which you will complete questionnaires, interviews, and conversations between the two of you.  You will be paid $250 for your time.

Comprehensive Treatment

Eating disorder treatment is often expensive, costing thousands of dollars. Because this is a therapy research study, we are able to offer this study-related leading-edge treatment to you at no cost. Participation will include about six months of comprehensive study-related treatment, including visits with therapists, a psychiatrist, and a dietitian. Couples will be randomly assigned to receive one of two forms of treatment; the degree to which your partner or spouse is involved in treatment will vary.



If this sounds like you or your partner, you may be eligible to participate in UCAN. For more information, please call our study coordinator at (919) 843-2483 or email us at UCAN@unc.edu.

Directions: All treatment sessions will be conducted at UNC's Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders (first floor of the UNC Neurosciences Hospital).

The UCAN Team

Bulik 2012 lgDr. Cynthia M. Bulik

Cynthia M. Bulik, PhD, FAED is Distinguished Professor of Eating Disorders, Department of Psychiatry University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Professor of Nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, and Director of the UNC Eating Disorders Program. She received her BA from the University of Notre Dame and her MA and PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. She completed internships and post-doctoral fellowships at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh, PA. She developed outpatient, partial hospitalization, and inpatient services for eating disorders both in New Zealand and in the United States. Her research includes treatment, laboratory, animal, epidemiological, twin and molecular genetic studies of eating disorders and body weight regulation. She is a past president of the Academy for Eating Disorders, past Vice-President of the Eating Disorders Coalition, and past Associate Editor of the International Journal of Eating Disorders. Dr. Bulik has written over 450 scientific papers and chapters on eating disorders, and is author of the books Eating Disorders: Detection and Treatment, Runaway Eating, Crave: Why You Binge Eat and How To Stop, Abnormal Psychology (Beidel, Bulik, Stanley), The Woman in the Mirror (2011), and Midlife Eating Disorders (2013, Walker).

Don BaucomDr. Donald H. Baucom

Dr. Donald Baucom, PhD is the Richard Simpson Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he is also Research Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Director of the UNC Couple Therapy Clinic. Dr. Baucom is a clinical psychologist and has been conducting research and treating couples with a variety of problems since 1974. He received his BA and PhD from the University of North Carolina. He has conducted more treatment research on couples than any other investigator in the field and has been funded for his treatment research by a number of federal and international agencies for decades. Along with his numerous research publications, he has written and edited seven books about couples and intervening with them in a variety of contexts, including the major texts on cognitive-behavioral couple therapy. Over the past two decades, he has focused his treatment research on developing couple-based interventions for couples in which one partner has psychopathology or health concerns. Along with Dr. Bulik, this includes their treatment research on couples and anorexia nervosa, as well as his treatment research on couples and other disorders, including anxiety disorders, depression, cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, osteoarthritis, smoking cessation during pregnancy, and end of life. He conducts workshops throughout the world, training other therapists in how to conduct these interventions, which he has developed and validated. He has won numerous awards for his research contributions, mentoring other professionals, undergraduate teaching, and clinical training and supervision.

Jennifer KirbyDr. Jennifer S. Kirby

Jennifer S. Kirby, PhD is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is Co-Director of the Couple Therapy Clinic at UNC where she also trains and supervises graduate students and mental health professionals in cognitive-behavioral couple therapy. Over the past ten years, Drs. Kirby and Baucom have collaborated in the development and evaluation of a number of relationship intervention programs from a cognitive-behavioral perspective. These have included working with couples who are experiencing emotion dysregulation, health concerns such as breast cancer, extramarital affairs, anorexia nervosa, and couples who are preparing for marriage. Her interest and expertise in training others in couples therapy is enriched by her teaching of doctoral courses in empirically supported treatments for adults, dialectical behavior therapy, and clinical supervision. She also maintains an active private practice with couples and individuals.

BULIK Fame Box