Members of team Palliverse had the pleasure of attending the 4th Australian Palliative Care Research Colloquium between October 27-28th, which was once again held in the comfortable surroundings of the Rendezvous Hotel in Melbourne, Victoria.
As per tradition, the meeting was preceded by the Palliative Care Research Network Victoria breakfast, with a series of presentations and workshops designed to help early career researchers better understand the intricacies & practicalities of palliative care research. Karla Gough and Allison Drosdowsky spoke about quantitative data analysis, while Jenny Philip discussed qualitative methodologies. Dani Ko, Polly Dufton and Chi Li then had the opportunity to present their work and obtain invaluable advice from the expert panel (which also included Clare O’Callaghan).
The first day of the colloquium featured three excellent plenaries from Meera Agar, David Vaux, and a double act from Deb Parker and Jennifer Tieman. Meera reflected on the benefits and challenges of working as a clinician-research-leader, noting that “seeing patients is the best motivator” for persevering with research. David’s entertaining, interactive and eye-opening presentation on biostatistics was a real highlight, with the take home message being: all is not as it seems when it comes to error bars. Deb and Jennifer demystified the growing number of options when it comes to reviewing the literature. I will certainly be making friends with my research librarian from now on!
Day two began with a thoughtful session on exploring practice wisdom by Dorothy Scott, Clare O’Callaghan and Bianca Devitt, during which the importance of clinical practice in guiding and refining research was highlighted. Following on from this, Kerry Arabena, Craig Sinclair, Glenda Williams and Dina LoGiudice examined the challenges and opportunities around palliative care research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Glenda, a Noongar elder who joined us from other side of the continent via teleconference, reminded delegates that “getting back to the communities and letting participants know what’s happened to their research is really important” and a key aspect of the equal partnership between academics-researchers and participants-communities. The final topic of the conference was “Media profiling of research: the how and the why”. Attendees received open and frank advice from media experts Nicola Taylor, Kate Robertson and Kathy Bowlen, and learnt from each other as they grappled with this useful and increasingly necessary aspect of palliative care research.
As always, the colloquium was about networking as much as learning. There were plenty of opportunities to make new friends and renew acquaintances during morning and afternoon tea breaks while mingling amongst poster presentations, over the delicious buffet lunches and astonishing dinner at State of Grace. As the winning entry of the Colloquium Game declared: “Keep calm and know that the giraffe is not real”. See you next year!