Joanne Greenhalgh, PhD
Hello everyone and welcome to 2023. This year – our 30th Anniversary – is a big year for ISOQOL. Before I look forward to what is in store for ISOQOL in 2023, I want to briefly reflect on the last 30 years.
Preparations for the first ISOQOL conference began in 1993, following the first publication of Quality of Life Research in 1992. ISOQOL held the inaugural Annual Conference in February 1994 in Brussels, Belgium. Over 200 participants attended this two-day meeting that showcased 65 oral presentations and 72 poster presentations. During this conference Drs. Donald Patrick (President) and Robert Kaplan (Vice President) led discussions about how ISOQOL would function as a society. Over the last thirty years, ISOQOL has grown and evolved into a thriving, multidisciplinary community that produces cutting edge work in the field. That we are still here today is thanks to a series of ambitious and committed leaders and, most importantly, due to your continued support and intellectual contributions; we are nothing without our membership.
As I remarked above, ISOQOL wouldn’t be where we are today without the journal Quality of Life Research (QLR). QLR was first published in 1992 by the same group that founded ISOQOL two years later. A series of excellent and dedicated editors and associate editors from ISOQOL’s community have made QLR one of the leading journals in the field. It also has been a major source of revenue for ISOQOL, helping us to expand ISOQOL programs, benefits, and influence. The Board and I are acutely aware of your strong affiliation with this journal and that our members consider it to be ISOQOL’s flagship journal.
However, we may be approaching the end of a chapter.
Unlike the Journal of Patient-Reported Outcomes (JPRO), ISOQOL’s much younger journal, QLR is not actually owned by ISOQOL. QLR existed before ISOQOL and therefore the publisher owns it. Up through our existing contract, the publisher has paid us for support and endorsement of QLR as an official journal of ISOQOL. However, changes to the publishing landscape are causing publishers to rethink the structure of their contracts with professional societies and associations. They are cutting payments to the organizations who endorse their journals. Both JPRO and QLR make up nearly 40% of ISOQOL’s yearly revenue.
I am not sure what the future holds as we enter negotiations for our next five-year contract, but I do know we expect a large decrease in the amount of income ISOQOL will gain from QLR.
This may seem a daunting prospect for ISOQOL, but so too was the pandemic. Thanks to the excellent stewardship of previous Leadership, our reserves remain healthy. They allowed us to absorb most of the costs associated with two virtual conferences at reduced registration rates for members, as well as the hybrid component for our first in-person conference in three years. How to weather this expected loss of income is something we will focus on in our upcoming strategic planning process (more on that later).
Annual Conference 2023
It was fantastic to see those of you who were able to attend our first face-to-face conference since the pandemic in October last year, and I am already looking forward to our 30th Annual Conference this year. Our Annual Conference is the centerpiece of ISOQOL’s activities and offers an opportunity for us to share our work and exchange ideas. However, across most countries, costs are rising, and our conference is not immune to the effects of this. While ISOQOL has been able to subsidize the cost of the conference over the past few years to avoid raising registration rates, this is difficult to maintain in the context of an anticipated loss of income from QLR. However, we are sensitive that you are also dealing with the ever-rising costs and have added an Early Bird Registration deadline in June. Those who register by this new deadline will pay the same rates as last year’s conference. Students, patients, retirees, and those who qualify for the Special Membership (developing nations) will not see an increase in their conference rates. The future form and function of our Annual Conference is also something we will explore during our strategic planning process.
This year marks the start of a new strategic planning process which will set the course for the Society over the next few years. We will collaborate externally with a consultant who will facilitate this process of performing an environmental scan, interviewing key stakeholders, and surveying ISOQOL members.
Your views on the current functioning and future vision of ISOQOL are extremely important and will be captured by this membership survey. Partnering with this consultant will build a plan that will drive the decisions we make for the next few years. I will continue to provide updates on our progress with strategic planning throughout the coming year.
Times continue to be challenging, which makes the work of ISOQOL more important than ever. I look forward to embarking on the process of developing our new strategic plan and welcome your contribution to this process. Watch this space for updates on how you can do this.
This newsletter editorial represents the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ISOQOL.
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