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This year’s BDA Research Symposium will take place on 8 December and abstracts are being accepted. To inspire you to submit your abstract, check out these reflections from our 2020 winners.

Click here to read their abstracts published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.


Ciara Brennan

Winner – Clinical Nutrition

"I was delighted and honoured that my abstract was chosen as the winner of the Clinical Nutrition stream at the 2020 BDA Research Symposium. I presented my project which was completed as part of my Master’s degree in Dietetics from King’s College London. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between protein intake and outcomes related to functional status in community-dwelling older adults in the UK. This work could not have been completed without the support and guidance provided by my supervisors Elizabeth Weekes and Christine Baldwin.

"The BDA did a fantastic job organising a virtual symposium this year. Taking part in the BDA Research Symposium was an excellent opportunity to network with the wider dietetic community. It provided a platform that enabled me to develop my communication and public speaking skills. Additionally, I gained an insight into research currently being undertaken by dietitians across the UK.

"As a newly qualified dietitian, this experience has inspired and encouraged me to incorporate research into my dietetic career."

Read Ciara's abstract here.


Laura Drumm

Winner – Gastroenterology

"It was a wonderful privilege to not only be asked to represent the gastro dietetic team but also to know that the effort and hard work the team had put in was all worth it. We were delighted to win the award for the Gastroenterology stream of the symposium. The audit was completed to review the pathway of our new dietitian-led IBS service.

"I am relatively new to the BDA having spent most of my career working in the Republic of Ireland. The symposium was a great way of learning how the BDA works, to be able to network with others and keep up to date with current research. The fact that it was virtual and ran seamlessly is a testament to the organisation committee and I would encourage all dietitians interested in research to attend.

"Our service is relatively new and we have recently released a media campaign to improve awareness across our trust and hope to build on this if permanent funding is secured."

Read Laura's abstract here.


Tamica Mcbean-Willis

Winner – New to Research

"The abstract entered was part of my final year project at university and I was surprised to be informed that I had been accepted as one of the presenters at the BDA Research Symposium.

"There were so many interesting novel research topics in the stream, it was mind-blowing. So, I didn’t think an investigation into the prevalence of appearance anxiety and preoccupation with healthy eating with acute dietitians as the population group would have been considered for best abstract. At the time of the research there were not – to my knowledge – studies conducted on a cohort in the UK, and there was only a small body of evidence on this research topic. I was inspired to look into the area from an Instagram blog post from the BDA on World Mental Health Day, proposing the idea of orthorexia prevalence in dietitians.

"The research did see a prevalence in preoccupation with healthy eating in dietitians and this finding provides a good basis for further exploration in the UK. This study would not have been possible without the dietitians who participated as well as the support from my supervisors. This opportunity not only aided in the development of my skills in research, but also presenting to a large audience."

Read Tamica's abstract here.


Mariha Ansari

Winner – Obesity

"It was an honour presenting at the 2020 BDA Research Symposium and being awarded for my research was definitely a pleasant surprise. My research – a metasynthesis looking at patient experiences of bariatric surgery – contributed towards my undergraduate dietetics degree at Coventry University. Working on this project at the beginning of the pandemic last year definitely brought a host of new challenges, however it was also one of the pieces of work that I enjoyed writing the most. Of course, a significant amount of credit must go to my project supervisor Sarah Serjeant and the rest of the dietetics team at Coventry University.

"Thinking back to when I was choosing a project idea in my final year, I remember feeling quite nervous about undertaking a meta-synthesis; I knew that it would be challenging, with a lot to learn, but I am glad about my decision. There was such an overwhelming amount of qualitative literature around bariatric surgery so collating findings from individual studies to create overarching themes, was very insightful. The research demonstrated that bariatric surgery can lead to significant weight loss and improve quality of life. However, these positive outcomes are often juxtaposed with an array of ongoing physical and psychological challenges, signifying the need for long-term professional support. Sharing these findings and raising awareness at the symposium was a very rewarding experience.

"Although this year’s symposium was not held the way we all initially anticipated, needless to say, it was very well organised. This event provided an enlightening opportunity to hear from many wonderful speakers from different professional backgrounds.

"I thoroughly enjoyed attending the symposium and I would highly recommend it. In particular, for anybody interested in getting involved in research, the symposium can be an excellent starting point in getting inspired and understanding the processes involved."

Read Mariha's abstract here.


Eimear McCoy

Winner – Paediatric

"I was delighted to be given the opportunity to present my abstract at this year’s Research Symposium. I conducted my research as part of my final year dissertation project at Glasgow Caledonian University. The aim of my research was to investigate the sociodemographic determinants of periconceptual folic acid (FA) supplement use amongst a Scottish cohort of women and to assess how sources of preconception diet and lifestyle advice influenced FA uptake. Overall, my results demonstrated that there are social disparities in the uptake of periconceptual FA supplements amongst Scottish women. The results, therefore, were in favour of the introduction of a mandatory FA fortification policy in the UK.

"I was not expecting to receive an award for best research in the Paediatric stream. However, I was delighted and grateful to my dissertation supervisor and lecturer who encouraged me to submit my research. Regardless of winning the stream I felt honored to be given the opportunity to take part in the first place. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to all the other great presentations throughout the day.

"The symposium is a really great platform for not only dietitians but also dietetic students like myself to share their research. It is an opportunity to gain public speaking experience as well as an opportunity to receive recognition for all the hard work we do in undergraduate study. I would strongly encourage other students to put forward their research to the symposium, taking part in this year’s event has reinforced my ambition to continue my academic journey and complete a master’s degree next year."

Read Eimear's abstract here.


Kirsten Whitehead

Winner – Public Health

"I was absolutely delighted to win the best abstract for the Public Health stream 2020. I was also completely taken aback as there were some really good projects being presented.

"I have been researching communication skills in dietetics for several years now and had completed a similar survey of all BDA members in 2007. There were fewer student members then, so their views were presented as part of the overall data. With this more recent survey we had 95 students responding, so although still a small sample, it did present the opportunity to present a student perspective at the Research Symposium.

"The survey was originally developed as part of my PhD and was revised to account for the changes in dietetic practice and higher education. Dr Judy Swift converted it to the online format and Dr Tracey Parkin from the University of Plymouth and I completed the analysis. We are currently working on a qualitative paper analysing the students’ free text comments from the survey. So, thank you to all the students who took part and wrote so much! We really appreciate your time."

Read Kirsten's abstract here.


Samantha Baily

Winner – Service Evaluation

"I first heard about the BDA Research Symposium whilst reading Dietetics Today in my first year of university. As I learned more about the vital role of dietitians in research, presenting at the symposium seemed like an exciting prospect. Therefore, I was thrilled when the abstract for my final-year project was accepted three years later!

"Through close working with the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust paediatric dietitians, my service evaluation explored the effects of newly-implemented group education sessions on the parents/carers of infants with cow’s milk protein allergy. By using questionnaires to investigate parental knowledge, confidence and satisfaction, we found that the sessions were successful in meeting their objectives. This is a useful finding since group education has the potential to be more cost-effective than the traditional one-to-one consultation approach. Carrying out this research showed me how service evaluations can contribute to service development, and I look forward to applying this knowledge in my current clinical role to improve the outcomes and experiences of my patients."

Read Samantha's abstract here.

“The Research Symposium is a fantastic platform to showcase different dietetic specialties”


Terpsi Karpasiti

Winner – Nutrition Support

"I am delighted to have won the best abstract award for the Nutrition Support Stream of the BDA Research Symposium 2020. My project was completed as part of my MSc in Critical Care, looking at the effect of nutritional adequacy on clinical and physical function outcomes in patients receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

"It was a privilege to share my findings and hear about other exciting research work taking place in the country. It is certainly very satisfying to see so many dietitians being involved and leading on research, despite the current difficult circumstances. The yearly symposium is a fantastic platform to showcase different dietetic specialties, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone with an interest in research. I aspire to continue to share my passion for critical care nutrition and contribute to future research, particularly within the complex cohort of patients receiving ECMO."

Read Terpsi's abstract here.


Abstract submission: Register your interest

We're just putting the finishing touches to the Research Symposium 2021 abstract entry process for non members. Abstract submission is now open for BDA Members.

Please fill out this form if you'd like to be contacted when the application process is open.