Inreach and Connection​

By ISOQOL President Lori Frank, PhD

ISOQOL is emerging from an extraordinary year, with members making substantial contributions including through Society-led webinars and through the Special Interest Groups. ISOQOL held successful international convenings with both the 2020 Measuring What Matters and the Annual Conference in completely virtual formats. Last year we all trod on new ground, challenging and uneven to be sure, but ISOQOL members demonstrated inventiveness and creativity and continued professional commitment.

I want to recognize the incredible productivity we witnessed as a Society through the last year, along with the ways in which the year stressed and strengthened the bonds that keep a professional society strong. 

The remote meeting format had the major benefit of expanding access to the meetings beyond anything ISOQOL could offer in the past. With members literally all around the world our meeting organizers and the ISOQOL staff put substantial thought into limiting the barriers that timezones and scheduling create. Online meeting platforms were a lifeline and the chat function was used to its utmost, supporting new types of conversations among members during events. The Special Interest Groups have increased active use of Teamwork, our online collaboration platform, and they have sponsored creative networking and collaboration activities ensuring members learn about each other’s research and find ways to forge fruitful connections.

ISOQOL’s strategic goals require outreach, actively seeking connections with other organizations to work on goals that overlap. The first strategic goal is to position ISOQOL as the leader in integrating health-related quality of life and its components into health research, care and policy and our third goal is to Increase awareness, recognition and support of ISOQOL as the trusted authority in the field.

Each of these goals requires a connected membership and collaborative work among members.  The two ISOQOL journals, Quality of Life Research and the Journal of Patient-Reported Outcomes, are fundamental to ISOQOL’s leadership but each requires efforts of members as reviewers, Associate Editors, and Editors, to keep journal quality high. Increasing awareness of ISOQOL involves work that we all do in research, teaching, and publishing, but increasing this awareness of the Society also requires that we have a social media presence and that we use all channels to communicate the value of the  work of ISOQOL members.

Our second strategic goal is to Build a diverse, well-resourced, networked, and engaged membership that can also serve as a source of capable leadership for ISOQOL and the field now and in the future. The Annual Conference has been key to work toward this goal, and in the absence of our in-person presentations, Q&A sessions, and hallway chats, this goal is the most challenging to work toward during this extraordinary time.

I propose a focus now on “inreach,” developing and strengthening connections between members to ensure that shared goals for members of ISOQOL are actively pursued. Inreach will keep the Society growing intellectually. This year we won’t be making new connections with colleagues over coffee at the conference or during informal meetings in the conference hotel. The virtual format removes barriers to meeting participation though – notably travel – opening up access to meeting content to an extremely wide audience. For students and early career investigators, costs to participate are limited to registration fees – which include membership fees. The value of membership has increased through this past year with the expansion of strong content and the creative growth in ways to connect with one another. The upcoming Measuring What Matters conference is going to be a highlight for the Society in 2021 (have you registered?). The 2021 Annual Conference will once again be made available with live sessions and with access to online content for weeks following the meeting itself. New this year will be networking and social events, specifically tailored to our online format.

An outstanding example of inreach comes from the New Investigator SIG, with co-chairs Maryam Mozafarinia and Nikki Ow surveying SIG members about topics of interest and then launching an “Ask me anything with…” podcast this year, with the first episode about the journal Quality of Life Research and publishing with guest Dr. Jan Böhnke, University of Dundee and journal Co-Editor-In-Chief, and the second episode about machine learning, with guest Dr. Yuelin Li of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. There are many other creative examples of inreach from around the Society as well.

We can be proud of how we have thrived through unprecedented challenges over the last year. I look forward to strengthening the connection we share as members of ISOQOL, through stress and grief but also through productivity and achievement.

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.