Research Studies for Latinas-Proyecto PAS

PASPAS (“Promoviendo una Alimentación Saludable”) is a research study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH; K23-MH087954). The main objective of this study is to develop and test a treatment for eating disorders in Latina adults that is appropriate for their age and includes culturally appropriate family participation.

Procedure: The PAS study will have four phases

PASPhase 1: Interviews

We will interview Latinas with eating disorders and their relatives, health care providers in the Latino community, and personnel from Latino community centers to help us understand the appropriate role for family members in the treatment of eating disorders and to help us develop a community-based model for treating eating disorders in Latina adults.

PASPhase 2: Treatment development

With information from our interviews, we will develop a new community-based approach for including family members into treatment for Latina adults with eating disorders.

PASPhase 3: Pre-test the treatment

We will work closely with four patients to pre-test the new treatment that will include therapy with a family member or significant other. Standard Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a problem-oriented treatment that focuses on the present and future rather than the past. Standard CBT is currently the treatment of choice for eating disorders, but it has been developed primarily in the Caucasian population and typically does not include family or community-based components. We will call our new treatment, Family Enhanced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (FE-CBT).

PASPhase 4: Test FE-CBT in comparison to standard CBT

We will invite 40 Latina adults with eating disorders to participate in the comparison of FE-CBT and standard CBT. Each woman will be randomized (like a flip of a coin) to either our Family Enhanced CBT (FE-CBT) or standard CBT.

Treatment will last about 20 weeks. Patients and a family member or significant other will participate in assessments at the start of treatment, at week 6, at the end of treatment, and at three-month follow-up.

What you can expect from PAS?

Treatment Team

All treatment is conducted by professionals trained in both CBT and FE and with experience working in the Latino community. Treatment will be conducted at El Futuro Inc., a mental health clinic for Latinos with locations in Carrboro, Durham, and Siler City.

Comprehensive Treatment

During their enrollment in PAS, participants will be randomly assigned (like a coin flip) to receive 20 therapy sessions of either: Standard Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) OR Family Enhanced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (FE-CBT)

ALL participants will also receive up to 3 sessions of nutritional counseling with a dietitian and medical support for any physical complications related to the eating disorder.

Who is eligible to participate in PAS?

PAS might be appropriate for you if you:

  • Are a Latina, over the age of 18,
  • Have an eating disorder,
  • Speak Spanish or English,
  • Are willing to ask a family member or significant other to participate and the family member agrees.

Contact Us

If you are interested in participating in PAS and want more information, please call, Dr. Mae Lynn Reyes-Rodriguez, at (919) 966-7358, or send an email to: proyectopas@unc.edu

PAS Team

Principal Investigator:

Mae Lynn Reyes-Rodríguez, Ph.D. (Principal Investigator). Dr. Reyes-Rodríguez is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UNC Chapel Hill. She received her MA and PhD in Academic and Research Psychology with a second specialization in Clinical Psychology at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. Dr. Reyes was also an NIMH post-doctoral fellow at the University of Puerto Rico and has conducted research focused on the treatment of eating disorders in Puerto Rico.

Marissa Garcia, B.A. (Research Assistant).  Marissa graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2012 with a B.A. in Psychology and Spanish.  She plans to apply to a Ph.D. Clinical Psychology program in the near future and focus on researching Latino mental health disparities.


Mentors and Consultants:

Cynthia M. Bulik, Ph.D. (Primary Mentor). Dr. Bulik is the Jordan Distinguished Professor of Eating Disorders in the Department of Psychiatry at UNC Chapel Hill, Professor of Nutrition in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and Director of the UNC Eating Disorders Program.


Donald Baucom, Ph.D. (Co Mentor). Dr. Baucom will serve as the clinical trial co-mentor. Dr. Baucom is the Richard Lee Simpson Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Research Professor of Psychiatry at UNC Chapel Hill.


Kimberly A. Brownley, Ph.D. (Co Mentor). Dr. Brownley is a Research Assistant Professor in the Psychiatry Department of UNC Chapel Hill. Dr. Brownley is an integral member of the UNC Eating Disorder Program’s Faculty and leads the biomarker studies.


Robert Hamer, Ph.D. (Collaborator). Dr. Hamer will serve as the statistical collaborator for the project. Dr. Hamer is director of the Biostatistics and Data Management Core for the UNC Conte Center for Neuroscience Mental Health Research.


Margarita Alegria, Ph.D. (Consultant). Dr. Alegría is a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research, Department of Psychiatry, Cambridge Health Alliance. Dr. Alegría is an established researcher with extensive experience conducting research with the Latino community in the U.S. in the areas of mental health, health disparities, and community-based approach.


Concepción Barrio, Ph.D. (Consultant). Dr. Barrio is an Associate Professor in the University of Southern California School of Social Work and co-investigator at two research centers funded by the NIMH in San Diego, the Child and Adolescent Services Center and the Advanced Center for Interventions and Services Research (ACISR) at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Barrio is also the principal Investigator of an NIMH funded intervention development project (CFIMA: Culturally-Based family Intervention for Mexican Americans). She will provide consultation in the area of family intervention models for Latinos dealing with a serious disorder in a family member.


Anne Becker, M.D., Ph.D. (Consultant). Dr. Becker is an Assistant Professor of Medical Anthropology and Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and has focused on the cultural mediation of disordered eating and body image and postpartum illness. She studies the impact of social transition on disordered eating in Fijian girls and women living in Fiji and also in mainland Puerto Rican girls and women in Boston. Dr. Becker will contribute with her experience in the cultural mediation of eating disorders.


Debra L. Franko, Ph.D. (Consultant). Dr. Franko is a Professor at Northeastern University and has extensive experience in cross-cultural differences, measures, and the prevention of ED. She will consult in the area of assessment and evaluation of ED across ethnicity.


PASLatino Community Collaborators:

El Futuro Inc. is a non-profit clinic providing Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment for the local Latino community. El Futuro has three separate offices although the one in Carrboro will be the primary facility for this program (there are also offices in Siler City and Durham). They provide outpatient psychotherapy, family therapy and psychiatric services for children and adults. El Futuro is the only clinic in central NC that provides mental health services tailored to the linguistic and cultural needs of Latinos.

UNC Center for Latino Health (CELAH). CELAH is a multidisciplinary initiative for adult Latino health, linking UNC to the community and to Latin America. The primary goal of the Center is the development of new, cross-disciplinary infrastructure for clinical care, clinical translational research, and medical education in service of the growing Latino population. The CELAH clinical network has two principal components: 1) The Latino Clinic on the UNC Campus [bilingual, multispecialty clinics in the adult specialties, which incorporate primary care (family medicine, internal medicine, gastroenterology)]; 2) Community primary care network in central NC, a direct linkage between CELAH and “Piedmont Health Services” (PHS). The PHS is a non-profit organization that operates six federally-qualified community health centers in the four counties of central NC. It is staffed by family medicine providers. It is anticipated that the majority of the study subjects will be recruited from this community network. CELAH will provide the medical support for the subjects in the study.