Experiences at the Colloquium

Katie LeBlanc is a Consumer Advocate, Peer Reviewer and Review Author for the Cochrane Inflamatory Bowel Disease and Functional Bowel Disorders Review Group from Canada. She recently attended the 20th Cochrane Colloquium in Auckland, New Zealand.

It was truly an honour to attend the 20th Cochrane Colloquium. Indeed, arriving in Auckland after an overnight flight from Canada was incredibly exciting. Prior to the journey, I had registered in workshops that corresponded with my requirements for expanding knowledge and developing new skills for the benefit of Cochrane, and particularly the consumers who read our reviews. The Colloquium’s schedule of workshops, presentations and meetings sounded both inspiring and motivating. The opportunity to join others who assist with the development and transfer of knowledge, whilst continually aspiring to increase quality of life for humankind, was both a privilege and a joy! It is with utmost appreciation that I give sincere thanks to all those industriously wonderful people who developed and generated this marvelous event!

The following is a summary of some of the 20th Cochrane Colloquium's highlights:

The official Maori cultural welcome ceremony was held at The Auckland War Memorial Museum, and what a grand presentation of dance and music it was! 

The plenary sessions, with their distinguished speakers, were very thought-provoking, as they provided excellent updates regarding reliable healthcare evidence for consumers, transparency in health care decisions and patient safety. They also covered general evidence-based healthcare research, current challenges being faced, and initiatives planned for the future.  

Initially I participated in a workshop that was presented as a consumer event, ‘Making Sense of the Evidence’. The inclusive environment contributed to maximal interactive learning. The active collaboration between facilitators and audience initiated and optimized an excellent educational program. It is my hope that the facilitators of this event will receive due recognition for both their excellence in identifying ongoing effective learning material, and for presenting their educational tools with the utmost of precision. The well-designed workshops I attended contributed towards enhancing my skills as a consumer, peer reviewer and review author. It is exciting to hear about the development of new courses for consumer-advocate training, as well as the courses which are presently evolving and undergoing modification.  

‘Knowledge Translation and Communicating Evidence’ was a highly important positive exchange between presenters and their attentive audience. This oral session, intended to engage and enlighten its attendees to the multi faceted and appealing challenges of understanng barriers and approaches to communicating health needs and evidence, was of vital interest to participants, and our small space was actually overflowing with enthusiasts.   

‘Bridging the Divide:  Cochrane and Health Technology Assessments’ aimed at bridging the divide between what Cochrane does and what HTA (HealthTechnologyAssessments) do. Ideas on how we can work more closely together were presented by an international panel of experts. A global strategy and plan of action on innovation and finding common ground was exceptionally well presented.

‘The Relevance of Cochrane for People with Impairments and How to Engage with Them’ focused on ways that evidence could make asignificant difference for people with impairments, with a view of improving engagement between this sector and The Cochrane Collaboration. Biases towards the disabled were presented, and solutions for inclusion were well received by the audience.

‘Putting Evidence Into Practice’ was highly relevant to our world community. Although we are increasing patient education resources as we translate evidence from Cochrane Reviews, practical methods and techniques for physicians to commence or continue to engage patients interaction in making treatment decisions appears, in many areas, to remain an unconquered challenge. We are asking, ‘Are all physicians prepared to accept patient choices of treatment? Have we  reached this point?’  I would like to hear more insight from additional voices regarding effective strategies to assist with the concept of enhancing individual physician/patient interaction. 

These are just a few highlights of the many experiences I shared with other attendees at the 20th Cochrane Colloquium.  Participation in the colloquium was a highly unique and most valuable learning experience for me, and an excellent opportunity for renewing acquaintances, developing new networks, sharing experiences and generally gaining knowledge to develop and refine my skills. I am currently preparing a presentation on healthcare initiatives and patient safety, including Cochrane’s contribution based on information from the colloquium, for a local healthcare group.

Education through the colloquium has fostered my ability to keep current with new technologies and our evolving healthcare system, whilst embracing the joy of learning and cultivating new avenues and methods of facilitating consumers’ healthcare knowledge.

In summary, I feel that the colloquium was highly successful in fulfilling many of our goals and objectives, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved.  It was such an immense surprise to learn I would be attending the event, and I am most grateful for being selected as a stipend recipient by the Cochrane Consumers Network Committee, as well as for the enormous support and kind encouragement of our Cochrane IBD/FBD Group’s Managing Editor, John MacDonald. I applaud the facilitators of the 20th Cochrane Colloquium in Auckland, New Zealand, and all those involved in producing such a magnificent and successful event!