General Guidelines for Research-Practice Integration in the Field of Eating Disorders
Developed by the AED Research-Practice Committee (2009)1
A knowledge base built on information from research and practice is critical for providing the highest quality patient care. Therefore, the AED developed these general guidelines to help strengthen research-practice integration in the field of eating disorders.
Principles from the fields of knowledge transfer, innovation diffusion, and Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) were applied to the development of these guidelines. A unifying framework was borrowed from the field of education, which has been addressing its own research-practice gap for over a decade by integrating knowledge transfer and innovation diffusion principles into its strategic approach (Donovan et al., 2007; Warford, 2005; Love, 1985).
The Academy for Eating Disorders is committed to supporting and enacting the guiding principles outlined above. As an organization, we are convinced that long-range, systemic changes in the way in which research and practice are conceptualized and integrated will result in a stronger knowledge base on which to prevent, research, and treat eating disorders. To that end, it is our hope that eating disorder professionals and other eating disorder organizations will join us in endorsing these guidelines, and adopting and implementing them within their practices, groups, organizations, and institutions. As part of our strategic plan, the AED has developed a specific action plan designed to enact these guidelines within our own organization and the eating disorders field at large (see Appendix).
Guiding Principles for Research-Practice Integration
PRINCIPLE #1: RESEARCH-PRACTICE INTEGRATION WILL REQUIRE FUNDAMENTAL ATTITUDINAL, RELATIONAL, AND SYSTEMIC CHANGES.
- Eating disorder professionals should recognize that scientific data and clinical observation, judgment and experience (i.e., tacit knowledge) contribute to the knowledge base in our field. This recognition will support the respectful dialogue and communication that is critical to true research-practice integration in our field.
- Training programs, conferences, and workshops should emphasize communication and collaboration between researchers and practitioners to allow clinical data and observations to reach researchers and research findings to reach practitioners. These training settings should place a strong emphasis on the value of empirical data and clinical observation and provide hands on opportunities for research-practice integration.
- Conferences and workshops in our field should strive to model research-practice integration by ensuring that all conference activities integrate research and practice through the inclusion of empirical data, clinical observations, and information on clinical and research implications of the work.
- Advocacy efforts should focus on generating research funding mechanisms that focus on the dissemination of research findings into clinical practice as well as direct testing of clinical observational data in empirical studies. These funding mechanisms should emphasize researcher-clinician partnerships and explicitly acknowledge the value provided by both types of expertise.
PRINCIPLE #2: RESEARCH FINDINGS AND CLINICAL PRACTICE INFORMATION NEED TO BE ORGANIZED AND COMMUNICATED TO PRACTITIONERS AND RESEARCHERS (RESPECTIVELY) IN A WAY THAT IS EASY TO COMPREHEND AND TO INTEGRATE INTO THEIR THINKING.
- Empirical and clinical articles, presentations, and conference abstracts should limit the use of jargon and, when necessary, provide plain language summaries that enhance interpretability by researchers, clinicians, and clinician-researchers alike.
- Across all forms of print and electronic media, value should be placed on the unique information that can be obtained from empirical research as well as clinical observation. Perhaps more importantly, pieces on the integration of empirical research with clinical practice should be a top priority for all forms of media in our field.
- To facilitate comprehension of research and clinical findings and techniques, professional training and education activities should include interactive, participatory learning methods including mentoring, supervision, simulation, role-play, and the use of small discussion or work groups.
PRINCIPLE #3: BUILDING RESEARCH-PRACTICE INTEGRATION REQUIRES A LONG-RANGE COMMITMENT AND A CONSISTENT AND SUSTAINED STRATEGIC APPROACH.
- Research-practice integration must remain a top priority in the field in order to enact and sustain the changes outlined in these principles.
- Changes in training programs, conferences, and workshops should be continually evaluated and, if necessary, revised to ensure that the goals of research-practice integration are achieved.
- The principles outlined in this document must also be evaluated and, if necessary, revised to ensure that the strategic plan for research-practice integration in our field remains current, accurate, and effective.