Academy for Eating Disorders

Plenary Sessions

Plenary Session I

Thursday, April 23

11:15 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

There’s an App for That? How Technology Is Changing the Face of Eating Disorders Treatment, Research, and Advocacy
Moderators: Harriet Brown, United States; Stephanie Zerwas, PhD, United States
Apps, social media, telemedicine, and a host of other innovations are re-creating the world of eating disorders treatments and changing the relationships among patients, caregivers, and the greater community. In an ever-more-wired world, are face-to-face visits even necessary? What is the role of clinicians when patients can look up research and find community without them? How can clinicians leverage these technologies, and will they make themselves irrelevant in the process?

Attendees at “There’s an App for That?” will take away a broad overview of how technology is changing the practice of medicine. They will be able to summarize how these accelerating technologies are being integrated into eating disorders treatment and research. Attendees will also learn about the unique challenges of using technology in eating disorders treatment, research, and advocacy. Presenters will provide a balance of perspectives, and attendees will be able to evaluate the benefits and risks of incorporating technology into their work.

What You Need to Know About How Patients Use Technology
Lisa Gualteri, PhD, ScM, Tufts University, United States

Web 3.0: Bringing Eating Disorders Treatment and Research Online
Eric Van Furth, PhD, FAED, Center for Eating Disorders, Netherlands

Left to Our Own Devices
Margaret E. Morris, PhD, Intel Corp., United States

Discussant: Can Technology Replace Clinicians?
Glenys Parry, PhD, United Kingdom

Learning Objectives

  • Summarize how accelerating technologies are being integrated into eating disorders treatment and research and evaluate the benefits and risks of incorporating technology into this work. 
  • Describe the unique challenges of using technology in eating disorders treatment, research, and advocacy. 
  • Compare and contrast perspectives on including technology in clinical practice.
Click here to view the abstracts for this Plenary Session

Plenary Session II

Friday, April 24

9:00 – 10:45 a.m.
Dissemination and Development of Psychological Treatments in Eating Disorders: Evidence-Based or How to Sell Snake Oil?
Co-sponsored by the AED Research-Practice Committee)
Moderators: Douglas Bunnell, PhD, FAED, United States; Christopher Thornton, MClinPsy, Australia; Kristin von Ranson, PhD, RPsych, FAED, Canada

With an increasingly solid base of evidence for best practices in the psychotherapy of eating disorders, we still confront significant barriers to their widespread adoption and delivery. Some of these barriers are related to how research findings are communicated amongst the field and to the public and how clinicians evaluate research findings. Some therapeutic approaches, independent of their evidence base, seem to be more quickly adopted by clinicians than others. At the same time, there remains a clear need for the development of novel treatment approaches. How can clinicians address the needs of patients and families for whom best practices are unhelpful or unacceptable? With this plenary, the panel hopes to start conversations about how to achieve best practices in psychotherapy for eating disorders.

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe reasons why some psychotherapies for eating disorders (e.g., family-based therapy) are commonly adopted by practitioners whereas others (e.g., interpersonal psychotherapy) are not.
  • Discuss how ideas drawn from evidence-based treatments may be validly adapted to those patients with eating disorders for whom research information is unavailable, such as those with anorexia nervosa.
  • Explain ways in which research findings can be communicated misleadingly to the general public and encourage critical interpretation of clinical trial results.

Adoption of Treatments: Who Gets Picked and Who Gets Left Behind?
Carolyn Becker, PhD, FAED, Trinity University, United States

What to Do When We Have No Data to Guide Us?
Susan Byrne, PhD, University of Western Australia, Australia

Can We Really Interpret Anything From Eating Disorder Treatment Research?
James Coyne, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, United States

Avoiding Media Hype and Snake Oil Salespeople: The State of the Science of Eating Disorders Treatment
Kelly Vitousek, PhD, University of Hawaii, United States

Click here to view the abstracts for this Plenary Session

Plenary Session III

Friday, April 24
4:15 – 6:00 p.m.

Everything in Modulation: An Overview of Research and Clinical Application of Neuromodulation Treatments for Eating Disorders
Moderators: Hunna Watson, PhD, MPsych(Clin), MBiostats (candidate), United States; Isabel Krug, PhD, MSc, Australia

Neuromodulation is the science of how electrical, chemical, and mechanical interventions can alter central and peripheral nervous system functioning. Neuromodulation technologies include implantable and nonimplantable devices that deliver electrical, chemical, or other agents to reversibly modify brain and nerve cell activity. Targets for stimulation usually include the brain and spinal cord, but also comprise the peripheral and autonomic nerves. Examples include deep brain stimulation, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, vagus nerve stimulation, spinal cord stimulation, and cortical stimulation. Neuromodulation treatments have been applied to various illnesses including Parkinson’s disease, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, obesity, multiple sclerosis, pain syndromes, and, more recently, eating disorders, with promising treatment results.

The aim of this plenary will be to provide an overview of the basic, translational, and clinical research of neuromodulation, highlighting both potential and challenges. To start, the focus will be broad to give a historical and medical context to neuromodulation and a description; then the plenary will narrow in focus to neuromodulation studies in animals, and, lastly, will outline treatment studies for patients with severe eating disorders.

From Drilling Holes in the Skull: A Historical Introduction and Description of Neuromodulation Treatments
Andres Lozano, MD, PhD, University of Toronto, Canada

Paws for a Cause: Translating Neuromodulation Animal Research Into a Human Benefit
Alessandra Gorgulho, MD, MsC, Hospital do Coração São Paulo, Brazil, and University of California, United States

Promising Results for Treating Eating Disorders With Neuromodulation
Frederique Van den Eynde, MD, PhD, FAED, McGill University, Canada

Discussant: Neuromodulation on the Horizon: Should We Embrace it, or Should We Be on Guard?
Ulrike Schmidt, MD, PhD, FAED, King’s College of London, United Kingdom

Learning Objectives:

  • Provide a general overview of the historical context of neuromodulation strategies, particularly those with relevance to eating disorders — deep brain stimulation, vagus nerve stimulation, and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation — and how these have been successfully applied to a range of other psychiatric disorders.
  • Identify the main animal studies that have contributed to the understanding of how neuromodulation may regulate feeding behavior and assist to manage disordered eating symptoms.
  • Outline empirical evidence from neuromodulation treatment outcome studies in eating disorders, with a focus on those showing the most promise, and to address questions regarding ethics, targeting, patient selection criteria, and timing of procedures.
Click here to view the abstracts for this Plenary Session

Plenary Session IV

Saturday, April 25
9:00 – 10:45 a.m.

The Exercise Conundrum
Moderators: Kamryn Eddy, PhD, FAED; United States; Marcia Herrin, EdD, MPH, RD, LD, FAED, United States

Exercise has been acclaimed in the public health arena and maligned in the treatment of eating disorders. Public health messages promote regular exercise for illness prevention and weight management. Yet in individuals with eating disorders, exercise often becomes driven and compensatory and can play a key role in maintaining eating disorders psychopathology. This plenary reviews the complexities of exercise in eating disorders drawing from basic science, clinical practice, and other areas of mental health to address questions such as: Is the compulsion to overexercise genetic? If exercise can help treat bipolar disorder and substance use disorders, can it be used to treat eating disorders? Exercise can improve mood and health, but does it help in weight management?

Can Exercise Trigger Anorexia Nervosa? Animal Models of Activity-Based Anorexia
Nicole Barbarich-Marsteller, PhD, Columbia University, United States

When Exercise Can Help: Mood and Cognition-Boosting Effects of Physical Activity
Michael Otto, PhD, Boston University, United States

The Balancing Act of Incorporating Exercise Into Eating Disorders Treatment
Caroline Meyer, PhD, Loughborough University, United Kingdom

Making Sense of Exercise: Interpreting Public Health Messages About Exercise and Weight
Alison Field, ScD, FAED, Harvard Medical School, Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard School of Public Health, United States

Learning Objectives:

  • Discuss the potential risks of exercise as etiological and maintaining mechanisms of anorexia nervosa.
  • Explain how exercise can act to reduce negative affect and augment treatment interventions for psychiatric symptoms, including eating disorders. 

Describe supervised programs of exercise as potential components of treatment for eating disorders.

Click here to view the abstracts for this Plenary Session