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  • Writer's pictureLayla Mofrad

Getting ready for EABCT 2021

Written by Mark Freeston

In April 2020 I remotely presented the only surviving workshop of the BABCP Spring Conference, ironically, the first version of the Uncertainty Distress Model. Ten months later, I find myself in an interesting position.

My second vaccine is tomorrow. A few weeks ago I received a text to say I could rebook an earlier slot for my second vaccination as I was in an area affected by a new variant, and in a priority group (age). To rebook I would need to cancel my existing booking (for tomorrow), with no guarantee that there were slots earlier or indeed on the same day, or anywhere close to the date I had.

I rang the booking line and the call handler confirmed that they would have to cancel my current booking in order to view available slots . . . . hmmmmmm . . . . They expressed their own frustration at the poor communication. I took the conservative route and did not try to get an earlier appointment. I will not be bullet proof, but I will be in a better position in a few week’s time having had two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine (if you believe the data and accept the uncertainties around it). The call handler confirmed their frustration with the poor communication.

This example suggests that perceived uncertainty comes from system behaviour (i.e., a structural feature of the booking system requiring that an appointment be cancelled before knowing if an earlier appointment is available), and part from communication about it (i.e., E-mail encouraging to rebook without explaining it).

We have had great news today that two UNiCORN (and guests) symposia have been accepted for the EABCT conference in Belfast in September 2021. I am also delivering pre-conference workshop and keynote, so our uncertainty work leading up to and during the pandemic will be show-cased.

Since the pandemic began, I have socially distanced even during periods of less restriction. I have travelled once within the UK to see family in August last year, worked from home, only done essential trips to the shops and visited places where people can easily be avoided. I now find myself booking travel to Belfast (with all the caveats about new variants, fourth lockdowns, Covid or Covid-like symptoms potentially preventing travel). Don’t count your chickens!!

I have known about the EABCT conference in Belfast for several years. It is jointly hosted by BABCP and IABCT, and I have great friends and colleagues from both Ireland and Northern Ireland who are among the local hosts and organizers.

Belfast is a brilliant place. And BABCP/EABCT conferences are amongst the best in the world: the programmes, science, clinical relevance, and social aspects are consistently good because of local teams and support from experienced people. Because of what I do and how long I have done it, I get to see some of my dearest and longest standing friends mostly at these conferences.

We have a range of presentations from within the team, from colleagues, and from current and ex-students. It is great that this part of “life” will happen, and we may meet in person! It would be great if some of my younger colleagues could also experience the conference in person and face-to-face; it is such a rewarding part of what we do.

So, I find myself in a strange position! I am almost allowing myself to be excited by something that could happen, but not yet counting on it. A world class conference will go ahead anyway; they are set up for live, remote and hybrid presentations. In what proportion it will be face-to-face and social, we will see.

One can hope for the best – it is allowed! But we cannot yet count on it.

Take part in Uncertainty Distress research here

You can follow Unicorn on our website or on Research Gate

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Unicorn team: @Covid19Study

EABCT 2021: @eabct2021

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