Representing Kellogg in Copenhagen

11 September 2018

Georgia Richards (DPhil Primary Health Care) is a medical researcher from Brisbane, Australia. She gained a BSc in Biomedical Science from the University of Queensland before going on to complete an honours research project investigating the role of opioid therapy in patients with chronic low back pain. She attained First Class Honours and was awarded the 2016 National Women of the Future Award funded by the Australian Women’s Weekly and Qantas for her passion and dedication to medical research and helping others. Georgia was Kellogg’s first Naji Scholar from 2017-18. Here she tells us about her recent trip to the 6th International Preventing Overdiagnosis conference hosted by the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, which was made possible by a Kellogg College Travel Grant.

I was supported by Kellogg College to attend and present at the 6th International Preventing Overdiagnosis conference hosted by the University of Copenhagen in Denmark in August 2018. Delegates from over 30 countries with a mix of professionals from methodologists, clinicians, policy makers and patients were brought together to discuss the issue of global healthcare sustainability.

What did I do?

This was a three-day conference with a variety of keynote speakers, workshops and seminars. I had a poster on display for the duration of the conference which described one of my DPhil projects. This poster was within the ‘Impact of power driven overdiagnosis: the role of regulators and health authorities’ theme and is published in the recent edition of the BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine journal here. The poster describes my methods for investigating over-the-counter sales of pain relieving drugs in the UK and international regulations on the access to over-the-counter codeine-containing medicines across the world. I also attended the conference boat trip dinner and disco which was great fun!

Why is this conference important?

Overdiagnosis is one of the biggest challenges facing modern medicine. It results when a person receives a diagnosis of a ‘disease’ that will never cause symptoms or death during their lifetime. Overdiagnosis can occur when healthy people attend screening programs and or receive tests during check-ups that subsequently lead to new diagnoses and additional treatments for the early form of a disease which would never have harmed them. It can also occur when the definition of a disease is broadened so much that people who were otherwise healthy are labelled as sick and offered treatments which do more harm than good. There is now growing evidence that many people are overdiagnosed across a lot of different conditions including breast cancer and high blood pressure. My research focuses on one of the downstream effects of overdiagnosis which is the area of overtreatment and how we can reduce the overuse of strong pain medications. You can learn more about overdiagnosis here.

How did this experience help facilitate my research?

This conference broadened and clarified my understanding of overdiagnosis, overtreatment and the important role I have as a researcher when designing and promoting new research on screening, treatments and disease definitions. I networked with international stakeholders working in similar fields and discussed future collaborations and research. Overall, this was an enriching experience that has helped significantly develop the next phase of my DPhil research.

What else did I do?

In addition to attending the conference, I was able to appreciate the wonderful Danish culture and cycling city of Copenhagen. I attended a walking tour to explore the city, ate many delicious pastries and visited the world’s second-oldest amusement park that inspired Walt Disney, Tivoli Gardens.

I’m extremely grateful for this experience and thank Kellogg College for their support and access to such opportunities.

All Kellogg College DPhil and MPhil students are eligible to apply for a Kellogg College Travel Grant to a maximum value of £750. These funds exist to help eligible students meet travel, registration and attendance costs when presenting work at conferences, or to help meet the travel expenses of research or fieldwork trips.

Travel Grants are awarded termly, so if you would like to apply for a Michaelmas Term Travel Grant, further information can be found here.