Posted 2nd December 2016
In September this year, over 300 delegates from around the world travelled to Amsterdam to attend the WDPI conference. This was a truly international audience with delegates attending from all corners of the world even from as far as Hong Kong, South Korea and Brazil. Delegates were leading international experts in the field comprising scientists, healthcare and rehabilitation providers, employers, human resource managers, public and private insurers, lawyers and policy-makers – oh, and me!
The WDPI is a biennial conference serving as an international forum for research and knowledge implementation related to work disability prevention and integration, across all causes of work incapacity. Amsterdam was the fourth conference, following successful conferences in Angers (France), Groningen (Netherlands) and Toronto (Canada).
The conference was an excellent opportunity to be exposed to the latest research, much of which is yet to be published, offering a contemporary insight into new and emerging studies. Key note speakers included Machteld Huber from the Institute for Positive Health, who has considerably redefined how we look at ‘Health’ and presenting a tool kit for health; Silje Endresen Reme, Associate Professor from the University of Oslo presenting psychological and system approaches to tackling sickness absence; Professor Richard Burkhauser from Cornell University (USA) and University of Melbourne, who presented public policies and their impact upon working age people and welfare; and Manfre Muller, Head of Flight Safety at Lufthanser, presenting safety in aviation and lessons for healthcare.
As well as key note sessions, there were multiple themes each day, providing a forum for the presentation of research, including my own research on FCE’s, spread across areas such as chronic illness, work functioning, disability medicine, return –to-work interventions and compensation/legal systems. There were round-table sessions and also poster presentations.
Being exposed to so much research, meeting so many different people, and making new contacts with such a diverse international group of people was a very professionally enriching experience - I encourage others to attend the next conference in 2018. Keep an eye on the WDPI website where the location of the next conference will be announced (www.wdpi2016.org).