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You are here: Support for Australians experiencing eating disordersUnderstanding eating disorders & body image issues › Butterfly Research Institute and Current Studies

Butterfly Research Institute (BRI)

The Butterfly Research Institute (BRI) was established in late 2009, to break down the barriers that inhibit collaborative, multi-disciplinary research into eating disorders, by establishing a research institute ‘without walls’, to take a leading role in determining the future direction and coordination of research in eating disorders and body image in Australia.

Butterfly also supports ongoing research into the areas of body image and eating disorders. Current Australian and International research studies, that require participants, are listed below.

CEED Adult Early Intervention Tool

Institution where research is based: Victorian Centre of Excellence in Eating Disorders (CEED)

Date of project commencement: 18 July 2016

Description of Project: The Victorian Centre of Excellence in Eating Disorders (CEED) are developing an online early intervention tool for adults experiencing disordered eating, or an eating disorder. This online tool specifically aims to: Encourage early help seeking for adults experiencing disordered eating, or an eating disorder, Provide psychoeducation on the early warning signs, risks and treatment options for adults with an eating disorder, Provide evidence based self-help strategies for people to begin the recovery process. The online tool will comprise of four pathways, depending on a person’s readiness for change. These pathways will each include information and interactive components targeting different stages of the illness. Each user will be able to generate two personalised reports. One will be aimed at assisting a person in their own recovery journey. A second report is for the person to take to their GP or other health professional when seeking help.

What is involved in participation: SHORT FILM - To ensure an authentic and compassionate ‘feel’ to this website, we will feature some short films of recovered individuals, describing their personal experience of recovery from an eating disorder. We aim to include experiences from a variety of individuals (gender, age, background). We anticipate the films to be approximately 2-3 minutes long. The short films would be featured in the online tool and also in social media campaigns. The project team are seeking volunteers to feature in these short films.

Contact Details: If anyone has any further questions or would like to express an interest in contributing to the short films, please contact Belinda Caldwell, E:, T: 8387 2897 or Lizzie Manger, E:, T: 8387 2897 at CEED.

Free trial of an online CBT program for bulimia nervosa

Research Team: Dr Sarah Maguire (Principal Investigator), Professor Stephen Touyz (Associate Investigator), Professor Janice Russell (Associate Investigator), Sarah Barakat (Student Researcher)

Institution where research is based: Centre for Eating and Dieting Disorders

Ethics approval number: X14-0302

Date of project commencement: 29/06/2016

Description of Project: A self-help, CBT-based online treatment has been developed by eating disorder researchers and specialists at the Centre for Eating and Dieting Disorders (CEDD) for individuals suffering with bulimia nervosa. The participant will be guided through the learning objectives in each session of the program by a filmed, pre-recorded therapist. Each session consists of specialised elements such as psycho-education, personal stories and interactive activities – all providing ongoing motivation and encouragement to help stabilise one’s eating behaviours.

Participants: individuals aged 16-65 years old living in NSW & experiencing symptoms of bulimia nervosa (no gender preference)

What is involved in participation: If you decide to participate, you will be allocated to the treatment group or waitlist control. Those in the treatment group will engage in the first session of the program and then fill out an online Food Diary for the following 28 days. Participants will receive a weekly check-in phone call and complete a short questionnaire each week to monitor their progress. Participants in the control group will not gain access to the program but will receive the weekly phone calls and complete the questionnaires. Following the end of the 4-week trial both participants in the control and treatment group will gain free access to the entire eTherapy program, consisting of an additional 4 therapy sessions.

Location of Project: Online study (research group based at The Professor Marie Bashir Centre, RPAH)

Contact Details: For more information or to express your interest in participating in the study, please contact CEDD at

Addiction to Restriction: Assessing Self-Starvation Behaviours and Their Personality Correlates

Research Team: Dr. Nicola Sheeran (Chief Investigator), Dr. Angela Morgan, Dr. Natalie Loxton, Dustin O’Shannessy (Student Researcher)

Institution where research is based: Griffith University, Mt Gravatt, QLD

Ethics approval number: GU Ref No: 2016/327

Funding Source: Internal Griffith University Funding

Date of project commencement: 06/06/2016

Description of Project: We are interested in the benefits that could be gained by viewing anorexia nervosa from a different perspective, with the aim of improving treatments. To that end, we need to collect information from people with a variety of experiences in relation to eating behaviours. More information about the survey and the survey itself can be found at

Participants: We are looking for females aged 18 and over to participate. We require both participants with and without eating disorders to participate to enable comparisons.

What is involved in participation: We would like participants to complete an online survey containing questions about their personality, thoughts, and eating behaviours. We estimate the survey will take approximately 30 minutes to complete. Upon completing the survey participants can elect to enter a random draw to win one of two $50 VISA gift cards as a thank you from the researchers.

Location of Project: Online at

Contact Details: Please contact one of the researchers if you have any questions or concerns about the survey, or if you become distressed by the content of the survey, and we will be able to assist you. Dr. Nicola Sheeran: Ph: (07) 3735 3341, Email: Dr. Angela Morgan: Ph: (07) 3735 3356, Email:

National Collaborative Project Grants

13 applications were received from national collaborations (several with international collaborators).

Applications were reviewed by an expert team of researchers, and three of these projects were selected and funded.  The funded projects listed below are ongoing.

Identification & Early Intervention
Research Team:  Prof. Helen Truby, A/Prof Terry Haines, Laura Tirlea
University / Institution: Monash University
Project: Evaluating the efficacy of the school based program “Girls on the Go!” to improve self esteem, body satisfaction and physical activity in a multicultural environment: a randomised control trial

Treatment Standards & Strategies 
Research Team: Prof. Jan Russell, Prof. Janet Treasure, Dr. Adam Guastella, Prof. Ulrike Schmidt, Dr. Kate Tchanturia, Dr. Sarah Maguire, Mr. Dean Carson
University / Institution: University of Sydney (USYD)
Project: The effect of oxytocin on cognitive rigidity and social anxiety in eating disorders: A randomized placebo controlled trial of the effects of oxytocin in the treatment of anorexia nervosa

Promotion & Prevention
Research Team: Dr Simon Wilksch, Prof. Tracey Wade, Prof. Susan Paxton, Dr. Bryn Austin, A/Prof. Susan Byrne
University / Institution: Flinders University
Project: Prevention across the spectrum: Can we simultaneously reduce the risk of both eating disorders and obesity?

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