Thursday, 12 May 2016

The 'Wow' moments

Posted by Rosemary Rushmer, Professor of Knowledge Exchange in Public Health, and Dr Peter van der Graaf, AskFuse Research Manager, Fuse and Teesside University

From the 26-28 April, Fuse hosted the Third International Conference on Knowledge Exchange in Public Health in Newcastle-Gateshead. The conference explored “Evidence to Impact in Public Health" in partnership with Tranzo (Dutch Scientific Center for Care and Welfare) and the World Health Organization (WHO), Regional Office for Europe. More than 160 participants from five continents descended upon the Quayside to discuss the latest research and evidence on knowledge exchange practices through papers, posters, interactive workshops and soapbox sessions – and continued these deliberations during the conference reception and dinner, organised walks and yoga sessions.

How do you sum up a conference like this? We are used to filling in ‘happy sheets’ when we attend conferences, giving our scores on the speakers, the accommodation, and if the food was hot…but what about the ‘Wow!’ moments that participants share with each other in the informal spaces?

Below are a few of those hidden moments:

(Day 1: Keynote speaker Professor Bev Holmes, Vice-President, Research
& Impact at the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, Vancouver)

‘Wow, she has a lovely way of asking really difficult questions in such a nice, unthreatening way…’

(Day 2: Keynote speaker Professor Hans Van Oers,
Professor in Public Health, Tranzo, Tilburg University)

‘Wow, how did they manage to carry out that research against all that opposition and yet laugh about it now… you can have a good time, be funny, and serious as well…’

(Day 1: Keynote speaker Professor Kieran Walshe, Professor of
 Health Policy & Management, Manchester Business School)

‘Hmm, we can learn about innovation in public health from the car industry and Amazon…’

‘(Sigh) Is that how much we spend on pharmaceutical research and how little we spend on working together to get evidence used. That needs to change…’
(Day 2: Keynote speaker Claudia Stein, Director of the Division of Information,
 Evidence, Research & Innovation, World Health Organisation (WHO))

‘Wow’ it’s that last presentation of the conference and the room is still full.’
(Day 2: Professor Peter Kelly, Director of Public Health
& Adult Social Services, Stockton Borough Council)

‘Goodness! Your Directors of Public Health (DsPH) have taken time out to chair sessions and present…’ (When I fed this back to one DsPH, to show the planning committee’s appreciation of their participation, he was surprised at the delegates surprise… ‘What on earth happens elsewhere…?’ he said.

Maybe we, in Fuse, do have a ‘special relationship’ with our policy and practice partner that makes Knowledge Exchange in public health easier in the North East of England. We, the organising committee, were wowed by the enthusiasm and engagement of all participants during the conference. Discussions were lively with active and positive contributions from not only researchers but in particular public health practitioners and policy makers. Their engagement in the conference is the real evidence of how far we have come with knowledge exchange in the North East and the impact we are having together on public health and local wellbeing, and this is being noticed internationally.

Here's to the next conference!

Visit the Fuse website to find out more about the conference:

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