Eating Disorder Research & Studies

The field of eating disorder research is continually evolving, and treatments are being developed and refined based on these discoveries. Given the complex nature of eating disorders, it is not surprising that the factors that contribute to these diseases are multifaceted.  There is not one single cause responsible for the formation and development of an eating disorder, but rather, an accumulation of several possible compounding factors that each play a role in the development and maintenance of these diseases.  These factors can be biological, sociological, emotional, environmental, etc.

One factor frequently investigated by eating disorder research is the biological component of eating disorders.  Many have pondered and theorized what mechanisms occur in the human body, and brain specifically, that can make an individual susceptible to developing anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder.  Studies are currently underway that are examining potential contributing factors to an eating disorder, such as genetics, hormones, and neurobiology.

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    Northwestern University


    Increase access to body image and mood support for LGBTQ+ youth

    Researchers at Northwestern University are running a study to increase access to body image and mood support for LGBTQ+ youth! The study takes 1 hour to complete.
    Participants receive up to $15 for participating in the online activity and survey.

    You may be eligible if you are:

    • An LGBTQ+ teen ages 13-17
    • Comfortable reading/writing in English and in the U.S.
    • Having difficulties with mood (feeling sad)
    • Having concerns about body image (how you look)

    For more information, email Arielle Smith (arielle.smith@northwestern.edu) and Dr. Jessica Schleider (jessica.schleider@northwestern.edu) and mention the study
    Testing a Single-Session Online Body Image and Mood Program for Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) Adolescents: IRB STU00220039.


    You can learn more and get started at:

    Goldsmiths, University of London


    Executive Functioning in Anorexia Nervosa

    🌟 Join Our Research Study on Executive Functioning in Anorexia Nervosa!🌟

    Are you aged 18 or above with a history of Anorexia Nervosa? We invite you to participate in our groundbreaking research study exploring executive functioning.

    What’s Involved:
    • Immerse yourself in a virtual reality task, the Jansari Assessment of Executive Functions (JEF©), set in an office environment.
    • Complete a short questionnaire focused on eating habits (EDE-QS).
    • Participate comfortably from Zoom – your data will remain ANONYMOUS!
    • Complete a 1-minute IQ test at the end of the study.
    • Opportunity to win a £30 Amazon voucher as a token of our appreciation!
    Study Details:
    • The virtual reality task will take place in a simulated office setting.
    • The entire study is expected to take a maximum of 1 hour.
    Eligibility Criteria:
    • Age 18 and above.
    • History of Anorexia Nervosa.
    • No history of epilepsy, schizophrenia, or other psychiatric conditions.
    Why Participate?
    • Contribute to understanding executive functioning in Anorexia Nervosa.
    • Play a vital role in developing targeted interventions.
    • Opportunity to raise awareness
    How to Participate:
    1. Complete the Online Consent Form.
    2. Fill out the Eating Disorder Examination – Questionnaire Short (EDE-QS).
    3. Engage in the Jansari Assessment of Executive Functions (JEF©) virtual reality task.
    4. Contribute to a brief 1-minute IQ test.

    Your participation makes a difference! Join us in advancing research and supporting those affected by eating disorders.

    🎁 Don’t miss the chance to win a £30 Amazon voucher as a token of our gratitude for your valuable contribution! 🎁


    For inquiries or to express your interest:

    Stanford


    Confirming the Effectiveness of Online Guided Self-Help Family-Based Treatment for Adolescent Anorexia Nervosa

    The Stanford Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science is conducting a study on virtual treatments for Anorexia Nervosa in Adolescents. The first-line treatment for adolescents with AN is Family Based Treatment (FBT). While FBT can be delivered using videoconferencing (FBT-V), therapists’ limited availability hampers scalability. Guided self-help (GSH) versions of efficacious treatments have been used to scale and increase access to care. The main aim of this study is to confirm that clinical improvements in GSH-FBT are achieved with greater efficiency than FBT-V in generalizable clinical settings. This study builds upon a pilot study where outcomes suggested that a Guided Parental Self-Help Version of FBT (GSH-FBT) has similar treatment outcomes as therapist provided FBT. There is no cost to participating, and all participants will receive free treatment through the study.

    Inclusion criteria are as follows:

    1. Age 12-18
    2. Meet DSM-5 criteria AN (either subtype)
    3. Participants live with family and reside anywhere within the United States
    4. Family members fluently speak and read English and have access to a computer with internet
    5. Participants are not engaged in another individual or family-based psychotherapy trial during the duration of treatment sessions in the study.
    6. Medications for comorbid psychiatric disorders are OK

    All participants will receive an intervention, randomized to one of two conditions. In one condition, participants will receive fifteen 60-minute sessions of 3-phase manualized FBT modified for video conferencing with a therapist trained in FBT; in the second condition parents will receive a virtual guided-self-help treatment via an online learning platform, and ten 20-minute virtual sessions in which they work with a therapist-coach. All sessions and assessments will be conducted over Zoom over the course of 9 months, with follow-up assessments up to a year post-treatment. I have attached our flyer to this email and would be grateful if you could share this information.


    Contact


    Teen Health Study

    If you are a parent with a history of an eating disorder and have a daughter (without a history of an eating disorder) between the ages of 12-16, join the Teen Health Study! Help us learn
    about factors that predict healthy adolescent development and eating behaviors. Adolescents will be asked to complete surveys, interviews, and an fMRI where they will be shown pictures of their brain!

    The Stice Lab at Stanford is hoping to learn more about risk and protective factors of disordered eating.

    Who may be eligible?

    We are looking for families with daughters between the ages of 12-16 who do not have any form of disordered eating/eating disorder.

    Among these families, we are hoping to find parents who may have experienced one or more of the following during their entire life:

    • fear of weight gain
    • restrictive eating
    • excessive or compensatory exercise
    • purging
    • loss of control eating
    • disordered eating
    • eating disorder
    Will you get compensated?

    Adolescents can receive up to $350 for completing seven assessments including interviews, computer tasks, surveys, and one fMRI brain scan (where she will receive a picture of her brain!). Results will be used to inform future eating disorder prevention programs!

    Each parent can receive $25 for completion of a short interview.

    Total family payout is up to $400!

    We can also help with gas.

    Interested?

    Contact


    Visit our website

    UC San Diego


    Neural Insensitivity to the Effects of Hunger in Women Remitted From Anorexia Nervosa

    Walter H. Kaye, M.D., Christina E. Wierenga, Ph.D., Amanda Bischoff-Grethe, Ph.D., Laura A. Berner, Ph.D., Alice V. Ely, Ph.D., Ursula F. Bailer, M.D., Martin P. Paulus, M.D., Julie L. Fudge, M.D.
    Published Online:12 Mar 2020 https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2019.19030261

    From UCSD Eating Disorders Center on Vimeo.


    The Role of Cannabidiol (CBD) in Regulating Meal Time Anorexia Nervosa: Safety, Tolerability and Pharmacokinetics

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    Exploring the Safety and Efficacy of Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy for Anorexia

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    Binge Eating Brain Imaging Study

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    University of Louisville

    Eating Anxiety Treatment (EAT) Lab


    Using individual networks to identify treatment targets for eating disorder treatment: a proof-of-concept study and initial data.

    Levinson, C. A., Hunt, R. A., Keshishian, A. C., Brown, M. L., Vanzhula, I., Christian, C., Brosof, L. C., & Williams, B. M. (2021). Using individual networks to identify treatment targets for eating disorder treatment: a proof-of-concept study and initial data. Journal of eating disorders, 9(1), 147. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40337-021-00504-7


    Online Relapse Prevention Study

    The study includes individuals diagnosed with AN, BN, or Atypical-AN and have been discharged from intensive eating disorder treatment in the past month (stepping down from inpatient, residential, partial hospital/day program, or intensive outpatient). Participants will be asked to complete an eligibility screening over the phone, online questionnaires, app based behavioral task, and five sessions of relapse prevention treatment. Following treatment, participants will be asked to complete follow-ups at post-intervention, and at 1, 6, 12, and 18 months, and can receive up to a $200 gift card for completing the study.

    View Details


    Facing Eating Disorder Fears Study

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    Personalized Treatment and CBT-E Study

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    Washington University


    Seeking individuals who have recently been discharged from treatment for anorexia nervosa

    study pdf

    Click Image to view PDF

    Washington University in St. Louis is seeking research participants who have recently been discharged from intensive treatment for anorexia nervosa (AN).

    We know that engaging in treatment and working towards recovery is hard work, requiring strength and resilience. For those of you who are eating disorder treatment “alumni”, we would love to have you participate in our research, offering your unique insights that may be incredibly helpful to others in the future.

    The project we are recruiting for, Helping HAND, is testing a self-help app for those with AN coming out of acute treatment, including inpatient, residential, partial hospitalization (PHP), and intensive outpatient (IOP) care. Participants may be assigned to a treatment as usual condition, App condition (given access to our self-help app as well as any other treatment already being received), or App + Social Networking condition (given access to our self-help app + a social networking feature, as well as any other treatment already being received).

    You may be eligible to participate if you:

    • Are a woman ≥ 18
    • Own a mobile phone
    • Are an English-speaking U.S. resident
    • Have been discharged from acute treatment for anorexia nervosa within the past 2 months

    If you are interested in participating in this exciting research, please send an email to howec@wustl.edu, and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Our team is grateful for your consideration!


    Additional Research and Studies

    UCSD Eating Disorders Center for Treatment & Research

    UCSD EDC Banner

    Project Description: Want to get a picture of your brain? Make some money? Maybe even travel to San Diego?! UC San Diego Center for Treatment and Research is excited to announce that there Research Registry is now open! Sign up today!

    They are looking for children, teens, and adults to participate in our studies now, and in the future. They are currently recruiting people who currently have an eating disorder, who have recovered from an eating disorder, and people who have NEVER had an eating disorder. It takes 2 minutes to sign up and is free and confidential. When they have a study that is a match for you, they will contact you to see if you are interested.

    Compensation: Study participants are compensated up to $375 and travel and lodging may also be reimbursed. If you are interested in participating in a study now or in the future please fill out this SURVEY.

    For more information: please call (858)246-2660 or email edresearch@ucsd.edu. You may also visit our website at http://eatingdisorders.ucsd.edu/research


    UCSD EDC Banner

    Project Description: The University of California San Diego Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research is recruiting women recovered from anorexia nervosa (with no history of bulimia nervosa) between the ages of 18-45 to participate in a research study. We require that our participants be drug and medicine free for at least 3 months (birth control is okay), as well as be behavior/ symptom-free for at least 12 months. This research study uses fMRI to assess how the brains of individuals who have recovered from eating disorders may respond differently during tasks related to various sensations. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) techniques use powerful magnetic fields that allow a scanner and a computer to take very detailed pictures of the structure of the brain and brain activation.

    This eating disorder research study would involve a 4.5-hour commitment, with two and a half hours in the MRI scanner. During the scan you would do two different tasks: one task would measure attention while hearing a loud noise in the scanner and the other task is an associative learning task that involves determining where to categorize two different photos.

    Compensation: Participants will be compensated $200 dollars for the single visit. Depending on the participants’ current location, we cover travel expenses as well as one-night hotel stay for the visit.

    For more information: Please call (858)246-2660 or email edresearch@ucsd.edu. You may also visit our website at: http://eatingdisorders.ucsd.edu/research/our-research.html


    UCSD EDC Banner

    Project Name: Self-Regulatory Control in Bulimia Nervosa

    Description: This research use fMRI to assess how the brains of individuals who currently have eating disorders may respond differently when inhibiting responses and regulating emotions. Participants will complete diagnostic interviews and assessments. In the scanner, participants will complete two task. The first involves pressing buttons in response to certain pictures, and the second involves viewing different neutral or emotional images and using emotional regulation strategies taught during screening.

    Who may be eligible: Right-handed females between the ages of 18-35 who currently have bulimia nervosa.

    Compensation: Participants are compensated up to $225. Depending on the participant’s current location, we can cover travel expense (up to 150 miles) as well as a one night hotel stay for the visit.

    For more information:  Contact Joanna Chen at (858)-543-0371 or email edresearch@ucsd.edu.


    UCSD EDC Banner

    We are currently recruiting for three studies utilizing a technology called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

    MRI techniques use powerful magnetic fields that temporarily magnetize some of the chemicals in your brain, which allows a scanner and a computer to take a very detailed picture of the structure of your brain.

    • Project Name: Neurobiology of Anorexia and Bulimia. Description: This eating disorder research study is designed to assess brain response to different types of sensation. You would be compensated $200 for this single visit. We are recruiting women between the ages of 18 -45. We require that our participants be drug and medicine free for at least 3 months (birth control is okay), as well as be behavior/ symptom-free for at least 12 months if you have recovered from an eating disorder.
    • Project Name: Neurobiology of Reward and Decision-Making in Bulimia Nervosa. Description: This MRI study is also a one-hour scan session for which participants will be compensated up to $200 for taking part. We are recruiting women between 15 and 30 years old. Participants must be drug and medicine free for at least 3 months (birth control is okay). Participants may currently have or be recovered (behavior/ symptom-free for at least 12 months) from bulimia nervosa or may have never had an eating disorder.
    • Project Name: Neural Bases of Multiple Forms of Self-Regulatory Control in Bulimia Nervosa. Description: This third MRI study requires three hours of interview and assessment time with a one-hour scan session for which participants will be compensated up to $200 for taking part. We are recruiting women between 15 and 35 years old. Participants must be drug and medicine free for at least 3 months (birth control is okay). Participants may currently have bulimia nervosa and engage in purging behaviors or may have never had an eating disorder.

    For more information: Please email edresearch@ucsd.edu.


    Massachusetts General Hospital Research Study

    Project Name: Effects of Anorexia Nervosa on Peak Bone Mass

    Project Description: Massachusetts General Hospital is conducting a research study to learn how to improve bone density in young women 14-22 years of age who are low weight or suffering from anorexia nervosa. This is a 12-month long study with up to 10 outpatient visits at MGH and compensation of up to $910. The study includes bone density, hormonal, and nutritional evaluations at no cost.

    Eating Disorder Research Massachusetts General Hospital Bone Mass Study

    Ages: Young women 14-22 years of age who are low weight or suffering from anorexia nervosa.

    For more information: Please contact Meghan Slattery, NP at mslattery@partners.org or (617) 643-0267

    Survey: Click on this link to take our Eligibility Survey: Massachusetts General Hospital Bone Density Study

    *Click on Image to View PDF


    Stanford University Research Study

    Project Name: Qsymia (phentermine-topiramate) to Reduce Binge-Eating/Purging in Patients with Binge Eating Disorder and Bulimia Nervosa

    Stanford Research Study Image

    Project Description: This study aims to test the efficacy of an FDA approved drug for obesity, Qsymia, for reducing symptoms of binge eating and/or purging in participants with binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa, compared to a control medication. All study participants will receive the study medication– either in the first half of the study or in the second half of the study. Neither you nor members of the research team will know the order in which you receive them until the end of the trial. Medication is provided at no cost and the study is expected to take up to 6 months.

    Ages: Men and women aged 18-60 with current symptoms of binge eating and/or purging

    For More Information: Please contact Hannah at htoyama@stanford.edu or at (650)-723-2242.

    Click on the PDF for more information.


    The Chicago School of Professional Psychology Seeks Female Volunteers for Study

    Project Name: Adolescent’s Experience of Anorexia with a Friend; A Phenomenological Study
    Project Description: Various research has suggested that adolescent female friends share similar attitudes and behaviors toward body image concerns and dieting.  While the importance and influence of friends have been examined, one area that lacks research and understanding is the role that a friend who has previously suffered from anorexia plays in a friend’s current experience with anorexia.  The proposed research aims to eliminate this gap in understanding through a phenomenological study involving in-depth interviews with six females who suffered from anorexia nervosa during adolescence.

    Seeking females 18+ who have recovered from anorexia nervosa within the past five years. Specifically seeking those who had a friend who also struggled with anorexia nervosa during or prior to the friendship.

    For more information, contact Hillary Urban at hxu2651@ego.thechicagoschool.edu or call 810-­623-7659.


    Researcher from The City University London, School of Social Sciences, Seeking Volunteers

    Project Name: Feelings and Faces

    Purpose of Study: Researchers are looking at the reasons why some people have difficulties with impulsive behaviours, such as self-harm and what their feelings are around food. This study aims to look at how people pick up on what others are thinking and feeling, as well as how people think about their own thoughts and feelings. Greater knowledge in this area will help in designing better psychological therapies for people who have impulsive behaviours or strong feelings they find it difficult to deal with.

    If you suffer from an eating disorder with/without self-harm and are interested in participating in a research study about feelings & faces, please access the survey here.

    This research has been approved by City University and the NHS. If you would like to ask more questions about the research, please contact Angie Cucchi on 07930 645428  or email: angie.cucchi1@city.ac.uk.


    Various Research Studies for Women with Anorexia Nervosa

    The Neuroendocrine Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital is offering a variety of research studies for women with anorexia nervosa. We are currently researching different methods of treatment for bone loss, anxiety & depression, and gastrointestinal issues in women with anorexia nervosa. If you are interested in participating, take this brief pre-screening survey – https://redcap.partners.org/redcap/surveys/?s=7D5MTI

    Massachusetts General Hospital Neuroendocrine Unit
    (617) 724-7129
    sehorton@partners.org


     Study on Anorexia Nervosa and Religious Coping Styles

    Graduate student at Richmont Graduate University is conducting a study aimed at distinguishing how religious coping methods and views of God’s grace affect and interact with Anorexia Nervosa.

    WHO CAN PARTICIPATE?
    Males and females age 18 or older who:

    • claim Christianity as their religion;
    • have been diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa;
    • care read at the 6th-grade level; AND
    • are willing to spend 20 to 35 minutes answering questions on online questionnaires.

    WHERE?
    To participate in the study, please visit the following website:

    www.mannafund.org

    WHAT WILL HAPPEN?
    Complete five online questionnaires at your own pace, on your own time, and in the comfort of your own home!

    No identifying information will be requested.

    This study has received approval from the Richmont Graduate University Human Subjects Committee. Primary investigators for this study are DeAnne Terrell, Ph.D., Dean of Students, Richmont Graduate University, and Katie Rider, BA, Master of Arts in Professional Counseling student, Richmont Graduate University.

    For more information, please visit the following website www.mannafund.org or contact Katie Rider at 678-235-5917 or anagraceresearch@gmail.com.


    Newly Proposed DSM-5 Criteria Reduce the Need for Not Otherwise Specified Diagnoses and can be Reliability Applied by Clinicians in a Residential Eating Disorder Treatment Setting

    Jennifer J. Thomas, Ph.D.1,2,3; Kamryn T. Eddy, Ph.D.2,3;
    Robert Hohe, B.S.1,2,4; Philip Levendusky, Ph.D. 1,3; Anne E. Becker, M.D., Ph.D., Sc.M.2,3,5

    1Klarman Eating Disorders Center, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, USA
    2Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
    3Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
    4Technical University of Dresden, Dresden, Germany
    5Department of Global Health & Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

    Objective: The DSM-5 Eating Disorders (ED) Work Group has proposed new diagnostic criteria that broaden anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN); add new disorders (e.g., binge eating disorder, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder); and create descriptive subtypes within ED not otherwise specified (EDNOS). However, the reliability and validity of these new criteria have not been prospectively tested. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the clinical utility of proposed DSM-5 criteria by assessing the prevalence of EDNOS under DSM-IV versus DSM-5; and the inter-rater reliability of research and clinician diagnoses in DSM-IV versus DSM-5.

    Method: Consecutive female patients aged 13-23 (N = 42) admitted to a residential ED treatment facility received both DSM-IV and DSM-5 ED diagnoses from a research assessor (n = 3) via the Eating Disorder Examination, and a treating clinician (n = 13) via an unstructured interview in routine care. We tested our hypothesis that significantly fewer patients would receive EDNOS diagnoses under DSM-5 versus DSM-IV using Fisher’s exact test, and evaluated inter-rater reliability between research and clinician diagnoses using Cohen’s kappa.

    Results: As hypothesized, significantly fewer patients received EDNOS diagnoses from researchers under DSM-5 (n = 14; 33%) versus DSM-IV (n = 30; 71%), p = .003. Clinicians also conferred fewer EDNOS diagnoses under DSM-5 (n = 7; 17%) than DSM-IV (n = 14; 33%), p = .003. While research and clinical diagnoses showed moderate inter-rater reliability under DSM-IV (κ = .41), they showed substantial reliability under DSM-5 (κ = .62).

    Conclusion: Our preliminary data suggest that the proposed DSM-5 revisions will successfully reduce the predominance of EDNOS in this naturalistic clinical setting. Importantly, the observed improvement in clinical utility is not associated with a reduction in inter-rater reliability, suggesting that clinicians can reliably apply the new criteria in routine care.


    Johns Hopkins Eating Disorder Program Researching Effectiveness of a Research Medication in the Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa

    The Johns Hopkins Eating Disorders Program is seeking adults aged 18-55 to participate in a placebo-controlled trial to examine the effectiveness of a research medication in the treatment of anorexia nervosa. Participants will be offered 16 weeks of medication (active or inactive) and weekly outpatient medical monitoring by a psychiatrist. The treatment will be provided at no cost and participants will receive up to $250 for completing all parts of the study. To participate, you must have anorexia nervosa, be 18-55 years old, be medically stable for outpatient treatment, and be willing to complete assessments (interviews, questionnaires and medical evaluations) at intervals throughout the 16-week study and at 1- and 2-month follow-ups. All information gathered will remain confidential during eating disorder research. Please call (410) 955-3863 for more information or email Angela Guarda at aguarda@jhmi.edu, or visit information.