By ISOQOL President Joanne Greenhalgh, PhD
Dear ISOQOL Membership,
As promised, this is my second letter to you. Through these letters I hope to not only keep you updated on major decisions, but to also keep you informed as to why these decisions are made. During the second week of May, my fellow Board members and I met for an in-person Board Meeting for the first time since 2019. I have to admit that personally, I was a little nervous about travelling and meeting face to face. However, meeting in person gave the board much needed space to have more in depth discussions about our annual conference, our educational programme and ISOQOL’s strategic plan. It also allowed us to say a fond farewell to Colleen Pedersen, ISOQOL’s long time Executive Director, as she retires and to thank her for all her support over the last 11 years. Below, I’ll outline some important points from the board discussions.
Form and function of our events
The Annual Conference has been a major topic of discussion not only amongst the Board of Directors, but also on monthly calls with my fellow officers on the Executive Committee (Lori Frank, Past-President and Christopher Forrest, Secretary/Treasurer). As I mentioned in my last letter to you, our decisions are impacted by vendor and hotel contracts signed prior to the pandemic. This means we are constantly having two discussions every time we talk about the Annual Conference – what is feasible for this year and what long-term changes should we be making for future conferences? We have taken a step back and looked at ISOQOL offerings as a whole to consider how the function of these events should shape decisions about their form.
The Annual Conference has always been ISOQOL’s biggest event of the year and has two primary functions: sharing high quality science and networking. The Annual Conference will continue to be the in-person networking event of the year, but we are working on ways to bring more of the science online through online education courses and virtual symposia.
ISOQOL’s Education Committee and other volunteers have been hard at work converting our two in-person education courses into online offerings, but they are now turning their attention to other ways to utilize ISOQOL’s new e-Learning platform. Early discussions include inviting popular presentations from the Annual Conference to expand upon their work via the platform.
Similarly, the Communications Committee are having similar discussions about adding conference presentation editorials to QualityTalk.
After four Measuring What Matters (MWM) Symposium events, two in-person and two virtual, we have decided to make this symposium a permanently virtual event. As a virtual event, MWM had nearly double the attendance when compared to the in-person event. This also allows us to offer the symposium as an on-demand event after the live event concludes. If you missed them, the last two MWM Symposia are available on ISOQOL’s e-Learning platform.
The other driving factor behind this decision is an awareness of budget cuts that are affecting many ISOQOL members. We hope eliminating the travel costs associated with this event puts less pressure on our members to have to pick and choose which events they can attend.
Conference Abstracts and Late-Breaking Poster Abstract Submission
As part of ISOQOL’s Going Green Initiative, we will no longer have printed abstract supplements available on-site at the conference for attendees. Instead, abstracts are available through the conference mobile app during the Annual Conference and will be published in an online supplement after the Annual Conference. This means there are no publishing deadlines preventing ISOQOL from opening a call for late-breaking abstracts.
The call for late-breaking abstracts as part of the Annual Conference will start with this year’s Annual Conference. This call will accept both traditional “late-breaking research” and research from presenters who were unsure of their ability to travel at our April abstract submission deadline. Please note that any abstracts submitted during the second abstract submission period are eligible for poster presentations only and the presenting author must attend in-person to present their poster at their assigned time.
We have not yet reached a “new normal.” The board and I are continuing our discussions about the form of future ISOQOL conferences. At the same time, ISOQOL Leadership will continue to monitor the global environment, adjust and keep you informed of our decisions. At the moment, we plan to meet in person but will take stock again towards the end of this month, before the deadline for presenters to notify their intent to present.
Stay safe. I hope to see you in Prague.
The International Society for Quality of Life Research (ISOQOL) is a global community of researchers, clinicians, health care professionals, industry professionals, consultants, and patient research partners advancing health related quality of life research (HRQL).
Together, we are creating a future in which patient perspective is integral to health research, care and policy.