Enhancing Eating Disorder research networks: The Eating Disorders and Autism Collaborative

Project Details


Our overarching aim is to increase research innovation and capacity in the field of eating disorders to ultimately increase our understanding, assessment and treatment of eating disorders (EDs).

Layman's description

Eating disorders (EDs) are serious mental health problems associated with poor quality of life and a wide range of
psychological, social and medical complications. Rates of EDs are on the rise, with increasing numbers of people seeking
treatment. Compared to other mental health conditions there is very little research into EDs, limiting our understanding of
these conditions and our ability to develop new, effective treatments. Importantly, EDs commonly occur alongside other
conditions and neurotypes (e.g., obesity and autism) and yet the majority of research on EDs is carried out without drawing
on expertise and innovations from these other topic areas. There is a pressing need for new ED research, with wider and
more diverse collaborations to make progress in this field.
This proposal aims to increase ED research capacity by:
1) Facilitating collaborations across diverse academic disciplines with a specific target on researching EDs in autistic
2) Supporting the development of interdisciplinary research networks bridging academia, autistic peer researchers, the third
sector, policy, clinicians and individuals with lived experience of ED.
3) Developing a series of networking, priority setting and research events that are firmly embedded in lived experience.
4) Increasing research capacity and career development via both early career researchers and peer researchers,
supporting the next generation of ED researchers.
5) Developing a unique Scottish research collaboration that provides a key opportunity to develop and diversify ED
research expertise across the UK.
At the heart of this project will be a new interdisciplinary network hosted in Scotland that aims to use different methods and
approaches to carry out collaborative research led by autistic people with lived experience of EDs. More specifically, we will
develop four streams of work:
1) Coming Together: We will host collaborative events which bring together researchers, clinicians and autistic individuals
with lived experience of EDs to exploring the ethical challenges and best practice approaches of research in this area.
2) Setting the Agenda: We will use an arts-based methodology called photovoice to allow autistic individuals with EDs to
share their experiences and set the priorities for research in this area. This will involve an exhibition showcasing the images
created by these participants.
3) Testing the Approach: Researchers will come together to try out new approaches and collaborations based on the
priority areas identified in the second work stream. We will carry out a series of interdisciplinary networking events to
explore and share these learning from these trial studies.
4) Research into Practice: We will host a think tank event for policy makers and those working in clinical practice. This will
focus on how we can make sure this research impacts the lives of autistic people with EDs, including how we best to
develop clinical services for this population in Scotland.
Effective start/end date1/08/2331/07/25


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