The Arthritis Newsletter

Summer 2017

The Patient’s Perspective: What It’s Like to Attend The Canadian Rheumatology Association Conference as a Patient

By the Arthritis Patient Advisory Board


One of the benefits and privileges of being an Arthritis Patient Advisory Board (APAB) member for Arthritis Research Canada (ARC) is the ability to attend scientific conferences related to arthritis research. Given the main point of scientific conferences is to disseminate knowledge, it is important that patients are involved, both to present their own personal knowledge of the disease but also to understand what new research is being conducted. As patients, attending scientific conferences is not only beneficial for us, but for the researchers as well. ARC makes this possible and we are very grateful for having this opportunity.


Members of APAB recently attended the Canadian Rheumatology Association (CRA) conference in Ottawa. Our perspective provides additional insight into the impact and direction of current and future research. At the CRA conference this year, patients who attended had an opportunity to interview researchers about their presentations through the Facebook Live platform streamed by the Arthritis Broadcast Network, which can still be accessed online. This allowed patients, even if they could not attend in person, the ability to stay up-to-date on current research and be included in the conference proceedings. It also gave researchers the chance to share their knowledge with a wider audience.


Academic conferences are often structured through a series of presentations and more informal poster sessions. Presentations usually run for about 15 minutes each, whereas poster sessions run for a couple of hours and consist of researchers standing by their printed poster to answer any questions from those walking by. From a patient perspective, the poster sessions are a great way to engage with the researchers directly and allow for time to digest the immense amounts of new information. Presentations, alternatively provide an overview of some of the newest research being conducted.


Despite the benefits, an academic conference can be a bit intimidating and overwhelming for a patient. This is due to the immense amount of research presented, but also the schedule of events and long duration of sitting/standing, which can be difficult on the joints. It is important for patient attendants to take frequent breaks and debrief with other patients and researchers, as the format of the conference encourages everyone to make connections.


Attending an academic conference is a very rewarding experience for a patient. It ensures research is disseminated throughout the patient community. This is especially true in the age of social media, where patients can get instant updates on important highlights throughout the meeting. Finally and perhaps most importantly, patient engagement during a conference allows the patient perspective to influence the future of research, a trend which patients and researchers alike are guaranteed to benefit from.


LEARN MORE: The Arthritis Patient Advisory Board (APAB) is comprised of volunteer advocates with arthritis who bring personal experience and arthritis knowledge to research decision making at Arthritis Research Canada (ARC). For more information about APAB and how to become a member click here.


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