Anne's Pledge - One Consumer for Every Member

Anne Lyddiatt has been active in Cochrane for about 12 years now, and is currently the consumer representative for the Musculoskeletal (Msk) group. She is involved in many consumer groups, as she is interested in all aspects from access to safety to equity.She believes each consumer should make it their mission to bring in at least one new consumer to CCNet each year. In this blog, she explains what the Auckland Colloquium held for new members.

The trip to Auckland was the longest I have made to attend a Colloquium but it was well worth the long flights and jet lag. From the opening to the closing sessions it was truly an excellent meeting with sessions of interest to all attendees. Everyone at the Colloquium was staying right at the venue, which is particularly important for consumers, many of whom are also patients and often need or want to have a short rest over lunch or during the day, which they can't do when they are 20 to 30 minutes away from site.

The Colloquium started early for consumers with a dinner on the Saturday evening. This time offers a wonderful opportunity for us to renew acquaintances with old friends and meet some new ones. I think all consumers appreciate this time to visit and share stories and plans – thank you Catherine for doing the arranging. Once the Colloquium was officially underway, each of us knew plenty of friendly faces in the sea of Colloquium attendees. 

I am not going to go into detail about all of the workshops, as you can access so much on the web via the link to the meeting, but I would like to mention some of the things that I found inspiring, useful and impressive:

  • The universality of health care issues – access, cost, safety – these points came up again and again, and appear to be endemic no matter the size of the country or the stage of development
  • A favorite quote from a presentation - `do the right thing at the right time – the first time!
  • Catherine gave an excellent presentation on consumers and CCNet as the second presenter in the plenary, "It's all about connections" – I think this likely helped many (both new and `old` Cochranites) understand our role and that of CCNet better and gain an appreciation for the consumer role.
  • Last but not least I have to mention the Canadian invitation to next year’s meeting in Quebec City.  The skit was based on the Molson `rant`, so if you google Molson Canadian rant you can view it – dispels some of the common myths about Canada and Canadians – in an entertaining way

The presentations by the Maori at both the opening plenary and the farewell dinner were absolutely phenomenal. It tied into one issue that had more discussion at this meeting than I have heard before. The importance of equity and access and how Cochrane needs to increase both to all with special attention to people with disabilities and those who have English as a second language. Several of the plenaries spoke abou this in particular, so I highly recommend that you watch the videos"Producing the best evidence, delivering the greatest impact" and "Better global health."

I came away with mixed feelings on health care – disappointed that almost all health issues are of a global perspective, but impressed that there is open recognition and discussion of the problems. That can only lead to increased awareness and action to solve the problems.

CCNet is very much alive and well, and I sensed an increased commitment from the consumers present to move forward with consumer concerns in a united way. One of the key issues is language – English is not universal and how do we address that with limited resources? The Consumers' Executive have put together a proposal to The Collaboration in a move to start the discussion.

I find that I always leave the Colloquium with new ideas on ways to promote Cochrane and increase the use of the Library, and through these means make evidence based practice the norm – everywhere.  If every CCNet member shared their Cochrane experience with a new consumer, we would ignite patient-centered values around the world.

To describe the meeting in two words – inspiring and superb. In fact, If I had a complaint about the Colloquium, it would be that there were too many patient-centered workshops.  All of the sessions offered were so interesting that it very often left me feeling that I needed to be in 2 or 3 places at the same time! Next year, I suggest you apply for a consumer stipend to attend the Colloquium in my country, Canada.