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ISOQOL 2015 - Catherine Bottomley

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Date: 13/11/2015

I attended the International Society for Quality of Life Research (ISOQOL) annual conference in Vancouver, Canada from 21st-24th October 2015.
ISOQOL is an international society with over 600 members from academia, consultancy and industry working in the area of Clinical Outcome Assessment (COA). ISOQOL aims to advance the scientific study of health-related quality of life to enhance the quality of healthcare and promote the health of populations.

I have attended ISOQOL for the last six years, in locations varying from London to Miami. At first I used it as an opportunity to learn and network during my PhD but have become more involved over the last few years and now chair the New Investigators Special Interest Group (SIG).
Having a day’s holiday on arrival in Vancouver gave me a chance to adjust to the time zone and soak up the sights of this wonderful city, including a walk around Stanley Park, voted the world’s number one urban park. On the first day of the conference I lead a workshop on Best Practice in Qualitative Research with colleagues from Janssen, Abacus and Oxford University. The workshop was well attended and involved lively discussion and a good mix of practical tasks and theory. In the evening I attended the Industry Advisory Committee symposium which is often one of the highlights of the conference for me as it debates a topical issue from the perspective of different work sectors. This year the theme was “Bring your own device” and discussed the pros and cons of using handheld device-based data capture in studies. This is an area pH Associates are currently working on in conjunction with fellow Open Health company, The Earthworks. The speakers discussed the potential advantages of reduction in patient and site burden using this method, alongside the potential barriers of paper-electronic equivalence and possible sample bias. 


ISQOL pic.jpgThe remaining three days of the conference were spent attending symposia, oral and poster sessions. The conference theme this year was focused around the Social concept of quality of life, and as such one of the main symposia was focused on the role of social media in collecting data. Another featured a talk on a national PRO measure being used in twelve chronic conditions across Denmark to assess patient-reported need for follow up outpatient consultations. Early analysis of this data showed that the number of follow up outpatient consultation decreased and medication wastage was reduced. The patient preference symposium sparked interesting discussion around the most appropriate way to assess the value of treatment to patients and highlighted the fact that understanding patient preference is key to making good treatment decisions. ISOQOL also funds two patient scholars to attend the conference and I spent some time talking to them about the meaning and importance of patient engagement in research studies; an important area which is often overlooked in study design and reporting.

Around attending the conference sessions, I also chaired the New Investigator SIG annual meeting and chaired a careers-based session called Tricks of The Trade where established experts in the QoL research field provide career tips and tricks to new investigators. I left the conference tired but excited about workshop ideas and collaborations to plan for next year!


Catherine Bottomley
Management Consultant, pH Associates


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