Research-Practice Guidelines



The Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) is committed to strengthening research-practice integration within its activities and within the field of eating disorders. This document accompanies the AED General Guidelines for Research-Practice Integration and provides a step-by-step action plan for the implementation of the guidelines through all AED programs and activities.


The AED Strategic Plan, developed in 2002, outlines the AED’s goals for meeting the needs of both clinicians and researchers. The Research-Practice Task Force (RPTF) was formed in 2007 to further identify and address obstacles to the implementation of this strategic directive. 

The RPTF developed the AED General Guidelines for Research-Practice Integration based on work group discussions at the AED International Conference on Eating Disorders and research both within and outside the field.  The current document operationalizes these general guidelines in the form of an action plan for the AED, its activities, products, and members.

Oversight and Implementation

The AED has made a commitment to the long-range implementation of these guidelines Given the scope, variety, and complexity of some of the strategies outlined below, it is critical that the implementation of the guidelines be monitored. The RPTF, now the AED Research-Practice Committee (reporting to the President and Immediate Past President), will serve as a primary oversight group for this initial phase in the implementation process. Members of this group will represent the domains of both research and practice and will be professionals who share a long-term commitment to strengthening the research-practice interface. Exposure to, and on-going education in, the areas of knowledge transfer, diffusion theory, and interactive learning methods will be necessary so that committee members understand how to establish effective implementation priorities, strategies, and methods for evaluating the process.  In addition, the Research-Practice Committee will continue to host the annual AED Global Think Tank session at each ICED to foster on-going review and implementation of the guidelines within the AED and within the practices, groups, organizations and institutions of participants.

Review and evaluation of these guidelines will take place every six months for the first three years of this initiative. The guidelines and action plan will be revised as needed. To preserve the history of the process of this endeavor, each version of the guidelines will be archived on the AED website.  The AED Research-Practice Committee will oversee all of these review, evaluation, and maintenance activities.

AED Action Plan Principles

The steps outlined below were developed specifically to promote research-practice integration throughout the activities and programs of the AED and to encourage the adoption of a research-practice mindset or philosophy within the AED membership.  The action plan is organized by the guiding principles outlined in the AED General Guidelines for Research-Practice Integration.

Principle #1: Research-practice Integration Will Require Fundamental Attitudinal, Relational, Systemic, Changes.


  • Value and encourage integration of research and practice and respectful dialogue between researchers and practitioners throughout all AED organizational/institutional/program communications, programs, and services.
  • Support the recognition that both research and clinical observation, judgment and experience (tacit knowledge) contribute to the knowledge base in our field.
  •  Encourage an expanded understanding of  “research evidence” to include: a) multiple types of evidence (e.g. efficacy, effectiveness, epidemiological, treatment utilization, etc.) drawn from a range of potential sources (e.g., laboratory and clinical settings, assessments, etc.); and b) the position that evidence-based practice is not confined to randomized controlled trials alone, but rather multiple research designs.
  • Promote an understanding and appreciation for the value of research findings to the quality of clinical practice, and the value of clinical observation and experience to the quality of research.  This understanding should be fostered through an emphasis on the researcher-practitioner model in all AED education and training activities, publications, and other initiatives.

Systemic and Relational

  • Promote the development of shared concepts and a shared language by encouraging use of plain language, jargon-free communications in AED meetings and publications.
  • Encourage clinical and research funding mechanisms that:
    1)provide resources for clinicians to learn and be supervised in empirically supported treatments (ESTs); and 2) support researcher-clinician partnerships that field test ESTs as well as clinical interventions derived from clinical practice.
  • Emphasize the researcher-practitioner model for AED conferences and meetings. This will include such efforts as developing plenaries and/or keynote addresses focusing on the research-practice gap, encouraging AED workshop and paper presentations that focus on research-practice integration, and including practitioner discussants on research-oriented AED conference plenaries and researcher discussants on clinically-oriented plenaries.

Principle #2: Information From Research Findings and Clinical Practice Needs to Be Organized and  Communicated in a Way That is Easy to Comprehend and Integrate

  • Provide plain language summaries for empirical articles in AED publications, in particular the International Journal of Eating Disorders (IJED).
  • Include commentaries on the clinical applications of clinically relevant research articles in the IJED. Encourage IJED research articles to include discussion of clinical implications.
  • Create researcher-practitioner columns and news pieces in the AED newsletter, the Forum.
  • Provide a location on the AED website where clinicians can refer clients who wish to participate in research (i.e., a research subject register)
  • To facilitate comprehension, ensure that AED policies and procedures for professional training and education activities emphasize the incorporation of participatory, interactive learning opportunities such as role-playing, guided experience and experimentation, small discussion and/or work groups, and simulated demonstrations.

Principle #3: Building Research-practice Integration Requires a Long-range Commitment and a Consistent and Sustained Strategic Approach.

  • Sustain, augment, and ensure research-practice integration by maintaining an oversight group to monitor and evaluate the process and to continue to strategize ways to further facilitate research-practice integration.
  • Regularly review the AED Research-Practice Integration Guidelines on a member/institution/organization-wide basis (through the AED general listserv, website, and/or Forum) to ensure relevance and scope.
  • Build on existing organizational infrastructure (e.g., AED Special Interest Groups, committees, member listserv, publications, education and training programs) to support and integrate research-practice linkages throughout the AED membership.
  • Develop mechanisms that promote and strengthen full AED membership participant buy-in into the research-practice integration process over time.