PhD scholarship top-up for Sinead Day: Residential treatment for eating disorders: a clinical evaluation

Project Participants

Status: Ongoing


This ground-breaking project will evaluate Australia’s first residential service for eating disorders, Wandi Nerida, which was opened in mid-2021 by the Butterfly Foundation, a national NGO and peak advocacy body for eating disorders. Wandi Nerida provides 2-3 months of multidisciplinary treatment from a team of psychologists, psychiatrists, dietitians, nurses, and lived experience practitioners, who use a range of therapeutic approaches including individual and group psychological therapies, art therapy, yoga, ecotherapy/permaculture, and equine therapy. The present study will focus on the quantitative changes in symptoms from admission to discharge and at follow-up. This will be complemented by research (undertaken by Rebekah Rankin) investigating the qualitative experiences of patients, carers, and treatment staff. In doing so, the larger project will not only evaluate the effectiveness of treatment in reducing symptoms but also perspectives of which elements of treatment were most helpful, which will enable further improvements to the program.

This project will not only be Australia’s first evaluation of residential eating disorder treatment but also one of the first comparisons to an active alternative: patient outcomes from Wandi Nerida will be compared with those from a hospital day program. The results will be used to shape clinical guidelines for allied health professionals, general practitioners, and psychiatrists, such as the guidelines provided by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatry. With the assistance of our NGO partner, the Butterfly Foundation, research findings will also be translated into consumer-friendly awareness-raising and educational materials such as webpages and digital tools for consumers, carers, and their GPs to support them in making evidence-based decisions about treatment options.

Project Objective

  • To determine whether residential treatment is associated with improvements in eating disorder symptoms, comorbid psychopathology, impairment, and quality of life.
  • To investigate whether treatment gains are maintained after discharge from treatment.
  • To compare residential treatment outcomes with those from a hospital day program for eating disorders.
  • Long-term objectives:
  • To establish an evidence base for residential treatment of eating disorders in Australia for use by clinicians, industry and government bodies, consumers, and their families.
  • To understand who is most likely to benefit from residential treatment over existing treatment settings.
  • To close the gap in the treatment of eating disorders through the funding of further evidence-based residential treatment services.

Integrity, Excellence,
Teamwork and Authenticity