Thursday, June 14, 2007

Diabetes solutions that care

Philips research organised a symposium on diabetes care

On June 14 I attended and presented at a symposium on diabetes care organised by Philips Research on the ‘high tech campus’ in Eindhoven: “Diabetes solutions that care”. The symposium was indeed mostly focussed on diabetes care with presentations on blood glucose monitoring and management, and new antidiabetic drugs. Different speakers expressed that there may be business in diabetes care, more than in prevention. For health insurance companies, for example, there is no incentive to aim at primary prevention of diabetes. However at the start of the day, Wim Wientjes great introductory presentation also addressed the importance of prevention and lifestyle changes. Wientjes was president of the Dutch Diabetes Federation, and is vice president of the International Diabetes Federation. Other presenters came from Germany, UK, and the Netherlands. Mine was the final presentation of the day. A bit strange that the importance of prevention gets most attention at the end… But it was an interesting day, not in the least because of the demonstrations of physical activity monitoring systems Philips is working on and that would be great as an objective basis for tailored health behaviour change feedback.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Research school CaRe met in Amsterdam

On Friday June 8 researchers from the CaRe research school had their annual retreat. This time the meeting was held in Amsterdam, hosted by the EMGO Institute. CaRe unites researchers from the VU University and Medical Center (EMGO Institute), Maastricht University, Nijmegen University, and the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL) with an interest in research for trans and extramural health care, primary health care, prevention and health promotion. The theme this year was ‘Prevention Research’.

After Professor Guy Widdershoven, director of CaRe had opened the meeting with a brief overview of CaRe’s mission and goals, I had the honor of chairing the morning session. This morning session was focussed specifically on prevention of mental disorders and on mental health promotion. First Professor Nanne de Vries from Maastricht University build a case for careful planning and evidence-based practice in prevention, and for adopting a broader health promotion perspective in promotion of public mental health. He also illustrated once more the lack of governmental funding for prevention efforts.
Next Professor Pim Cuijpers (In the middle, in the yellow shirt), VU University and EMGO Institute, very clearly illustrated the importance of mental disorders as determinants of population health in the Netherlands. Anxiety disorders and depression are amongst the most prevalent disorders, causing substantial loss of quality of life and are responsible for more than 20% of total health care costs. He further argued that since treatment of mental disorders is certainly not always effective and relapse often occurs, prevention efforts should be intensified.
Heleen Riper (right to Pim in the picture) highlighted one very promising avenue for prevention efforts: web-based prevention programs. The Netherlands is among the countries with the highest internet access rates, and various evidence-based web-delivered programs are available for such disorders as depression, alcohol dependency and anxiety disorders.
Las but not least, our foreign guest, Professor Charles Reynolds (on the mid left, the man in the nice suit) from Pittsburgh University gave his address, in which he presented original research showing the effects of relapse prevention efforts on top of medical interventions for sustaining effects in depression treatment.
A lively round table discussion followed between the four speakers and the approximately 120 CaRe researchers.