By ISOQOL President Lori Frank, PhD

REACH OUT and tell someone about your work: OUTREACH for ISOQOL

In July I shared the goal of inreach for ISOQOL, and the importance of connecting as members. Now I want to focus on outreach, connecting ISOQOL to the wider world to have the most impact.

This year’s virtual annual conference format opens up ways to reach new audiences for our work. A new option is Speed Networking, offered at different times to cover everyone’s timezones. This new way to get to chat with those we know and get to meet those we don’t reflects the creativity that this year’s Annual Conference Scientific Program Committee Co-Chairs bring to the conference planning – thank you, Maria J. Santana, University of Calgary, Richard Sawatzky, Trinity Western University & Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences, and Kara Schick-Makaroff, University of Alberta!

Another new offering this year, designed to help us enhance the impact of our work by reaching a wide audience, is the Communicating Science Seminar. ISOQOL is offering this Seminar along with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). By joining you will learn how to “identify a public engagement goal, define a relevant audience, craft messages tailored to that audience and consider the most effective method for engaging that audience.” How could your work reach clinicians and health system leaders, and how could its relevance be clear to policymakers, persons with lived disease experience and potential patient research partners, and the press? Outreach and communication can expand the impact of your work, and ISOQOL is actively working to support this goal.

This is the part where I mention ISOQOL’s strategic goals – and for good reason. With a focus on the value of the Society to members, ISOQOL’s strategic planning process yielded specific goals with action steps we’ve been pursuing since 2017.

ISOQOL’s 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. One of the strategies the Board developed to meet this goal is to “Forge mutually beneficial collaborations with organizations to advance the field.”

The ISOQOL Collaborations Committee is actively and energetically working to help us all forge those connections. The diversity of membership affiliation is a starting point. Bringing ISOQOL content, like webinars, Measuring What Matters, and the Annual Conference (have you registered yet?) to the attention of our colleagues and those in our professional networks is something we can all do.

The work of members, the creative expansion of methods for outcomes measurement, the range of excellent scholarship – all deserve to have a wider audience. Clinical research and public health are well-served by our work. The ISOQOL journals, Quality of Life Research and Journal of Patient-Reported Outcomes, provide channels to disseminate the work but there are many others. Consider ways to connect with colleagues and share what you value about ISOQOL.

How can ISOQOL help with goals your own organization has for advancing health and health care? Let us know.

ISOQOL’s second strategic goal is explicitly forward looking: 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.

A strategy to meet this strategic goal is to “Recruit membership in regions and groups that are currently underrepresented.” ISOQOL members work in many different parts of the world, but there are still regions where ISOQOL could provide benefit but where we have a limited or no presence. Watch for more outreach activities with widened geographic reach as a target, but also let us know of your ideas to connect with the world outside of the countries and institutions where ISOQOL has a long standing presence. Within regions where ISOQOL presence is strong, outreach is critical to ensure we as a Society are inclusive and actively righting underrepresentation. What voices are we not hearing within our own Society and what can we do to reach out?

ISOQOL’s third strategic goal is to Increase awareness, recognition and support of ISOQOL as the trusted authority in the field. So, yeah, this one is key. There are other professional organizations that provide training in health outcomes research and related methods, and an increasing number of groups are addressing patient-centered outcomes measurement. That’s good! But it’s also important that we all recognize that ISOQOL members are authoritative leaders in these fields. Ensuring that ISOQOL maintains this leadership requires links to the many other researchers, clinicians, and networks with goals consonant with our Society’s.

OK – I’m done discussing the strategic goals (for now – I have a bit more to say next month!).

This Society is remarkable for the strength of the membership. We’re relatively small but we’re mighty mighty! As ever, I wish us all continued strength through the challenges of the global pandemic and I’m proud of the ways ISOQOL actively supports our ongoing 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.