Early- and mid-career researchers descended on Adelaide this week for the fourth annual Health in Preconception, Pregnancy and Postpartum EMR-C (HiPPP EMR-C) conference.
With a theme of ‘informing and performing implementation research in health systems and services’, the day was brimming presentations that revealed the real-world impact and scale-up of best practice health systems and services.
Associate Professor Shelley Wilkinson from Mater Mother’s Hospital delivered an inspiring keynote highlighting more than a decade of work in improving maternal health through antenatal nutrition programs at the Queensland service.
With the advantage of being embedded within the clinical setting, Assoc Prof Wilkinson said her team had shaved years off the implementation process, and encouraged those in the audience to find industry partners where possible for their research.
Rigorous evaluation both prior to and after her projects, which took participants through antenatal nutritional and physical activity education sessions, allowed for a deep understanding of pregnant women’s motivations and any barriers to behavioural change, and a wealth of evidence showing the efficacy of the programs.
Assoc Prof Wilkinson encouraged researchers to look at “the whole system” before launching into action, to identify the best process for their service, but also to “start making changes today” – “it is better to do something imperfectly than nothing perfectly”, she said.
Another highlight of the day was Merryn Baker’s presentation, ‘Establishing an effective research pitch’.
A University of NSW PhD candidate, Merryn last year won the Universitas 21 (U21) Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, with her presentation on developing a new, non-invasive way of diagnosing lung disease through breath analysis.
Ms Baker’s top tips included finding the right “hook” or “key takeaway” of the research to lead a pitch, in a way that resonates with your intended audience.
“It’s not about ‘dumbing-down’ your research but it’s about translating your scientific knowledge into the language of your audience,” she said.
Ms Baker concluded with an encouragement to “focus on communicating your passion” when planning a pitch, and to test it out on family, friends or colleagues to help inform whether your message is clear or could be improved upon.
There was applause all around for a number of EMCRs who received Conference Awards for their presentations on the day, and for the International Awards recipients. Congratulations to all the winners!
Scroll down to see a list of our 2023 conference award winners.
Professor Helen Skouteris, CIA of CRE HiPP, and lead mentor for the HiPPP EMR-C, closed the day with a heartfelt message to those in the room and following the conference online.
Prof Skouteris reflected on her plans when establishing CRE HiPP and its need for alliances to further strengthen research in women’s health during preconception and pregnancy. She highlighted the HiPPP EMR-C as one such alliance that in just a few short years was functioning independently of her, led by passionate and dedicated researchers still early in their careers, “doing such a great job”.
“It impresses me to no end, how supportive you are towards one another. Your collegiality and your compassion and support for one another is what will help you succeed through an academic career. You are our future,” Prof Skouteris said.
2023 HiPPP EMR-C Conference Award winners
- Best EMCR Oral Presentation – Asvini Subasinghe, Gaps in preconception health data available across state-based perinatal data sources
- Best Student Oral Presentation – Lane Carandi, Patterns in the provision of government-subsidised hormonal postpartum contraception in Queensland Australia between 2012 and 2018: A population-based cohort study
- Best EMCR Rapid Fire Award – Katrina Prior, Mummy needs her bottle too: Postpartum alcohol use and its predictors among new mothers
- Best Student Rapid Fire Award – Edwina Dorney, Developing a set of core indicators for preconception health services in Australia
- People’s Choice Award – Bonnie Brammall, A mixed-methods exploration Australian women’s engagement and acceptability of a digital preconception healthy lifestyle intervention: The OptimalMe Program