World Confederation of Physical Therapy just held its 4-yearly conference in Amsterdam. ICECReam people were busy trying the spread the word and get early career researchers interested. It was great to speak to lots of different people and a big welcome to those of you tasting the ICECReam for the first time, hope you like it! Here’s a brief overview of some of my impressions, we’d love to hear from you if you agree, disagree or just think what’s below is a steaming pile of crap.
It was fantastic to see so many different parts of the world represented, it is always a concern that some conferences (and the research world generally) become the domain of a select few, from a select few countries. The WCPT was huge – which obviously has positives and negatives of itself, but a real highlight was getting a small taste of what goes on in lots of different and faraway places. You don’t have to agree or like what you see/hear but getting a fresh perspective is always of value, usually interesting, sometimes amusing and occasionally inspiring.
Another thing that struck me was the sense of enthusiasm. It seemed as though people were really into it, enjoying what was on offer and taking the chance to interact with the presentations, with each other and with everything that is on offer in Amsterdam. Every conference has its moments when the session becomes a running battle to keep the eyelids in the ‘open’ position, the atmosphere here made that fight just a little easier to win.
I was a little concerned about how much of the content seemed to revolve around making sure Physiotherapy maintains or increases ‘’its share’’ of the healthcare dollar, at times I wondered a bit if I’d stumbled into a marketing convention. I understand the need for people to run a business but I get worried when it looks like marketing and advertising are dressed up as science. In my view, science is for giving us the best possible answer to an objectively posed question, not for showing something works so people can make money out of it.
This line of thought led me to ask myself another question. I heard repeatedly that RCTs are not the best way to answer questions concerning physiotherapy. Irrespective of whether this is true or not, I really wonder if people would keep asking this question if more RCTs showed that physiotherapy is effective. Is the methodology the problem or is the fact that we don’t like the answer?
I do understand the need for sponsors at events like this and obviously their ‘’support’’ doesn’t come for free. That said, I do wonder about some of the shiny garbage therapeutic equipment in the expo, see my concern above regarding science and marketing. Last but not least – at what point does someone put on a conference and not provide free coffee??? It doesn’t have to be good coffee, researchers expect bad coffee at conferences but making the punters pay for bad coffee is a bit much.
Let us know what you thought.
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